Sometimes, someone reaches out to you, and invites you to step up to the plate and take a swing at something new. Something you would never, ever, have considered doing of your own accord.
And sometimes, for some reason, you say “yes”.
That is the story of my one amazing morning. It began when Meenoo Rami, an educator I so admire, reached out with an email asking if I’d like to be part of a teacher panel at a Gates Foundation Education Forum. “Would you like to lend a teacher’s point of view?” she asked, and I said, “Yes!”
A few days later, she reached out again to ask if I’d consider making a few remarks at some point in the Forum…a “Spark talk”. And, because I had no idea what that was really all about, and because I also talk for a living (teaching is all about conversation with kids, after all), I said, “Yes!” again.
Which leads to last Wednesday morning, a wet Pacific Northwest morning:
By this time, I knew that the “Spark Talk” was not going to be in some little corner of the Forum, but on this stage…as a lead up to the keynotes:
Luckily, I was with a team of three educators and one student, all of us awed by the surroundings, the spirit of the moment. We were led into the tech room, its banks of computer monitors and sound equipment blinking and winking away, and miked. Everyone was so nice, so reassuring. “You’ll be fine”, the said, “you’ll be great!” Anxiety was giving way to an eerie calm inside me, there was no going back now. Then we took our seats, and waited.
Finally, it was my turn to speak:
I made my way through the words I had written and practiced speaking; but, speaking them out loud this way, in the presence of so many people, lent the words a greater significance, a deeper meaning. And then I made my way back to my seat, and prepared to listen first to Melinda Gates:
and then to Bill Gates:
Much of the rest of the morning went by in a blur. I have notes about what speakers said, and what I thought about what they said. But, mostly, I was thinking of my own words…did they carry the power of my feelings about public schools and why we need to protect them? Did they speak to why teaching is such worthy work? Would my students, should they have tuned in to listen, have been proud?
And then, just like that, the morning was over. An amazing morning. A morning to celebrate, later, with the someone who believed I could: