Slice of Life Tuesday: One Amazing Morning

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:

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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:

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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:

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and then to Bill Gates:

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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:

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17 thoughts on “Slice of Life Tuesday: One Amazing Morning

  1. What a moment to be proud of! Reminds me of my acceptance speech at NCTE last year, so full of truth and emotion. You are an awesome role model. I’d love to hear (read) your speech.

  2. Wow! I am impressed and inspired! I always think it is strangely interesting that I can get up to speak in front of a gym full of children without notes, but to speak in front of the same number of adults is overwhelming. Bravo for being so brave.

  3. Congratulations! I echo Adrienne’s thoughts. I always was comfortable speaking to my classes, but put me in front of a group of adults, especially other educators, and I would turn to jelly.

  4. I felt so much pride just knowing you were there to represent us. You are such a role model and a great mentor. I wonder if you might consider posting your speech as a blog post?

  5. It is different in front of an audience instead of that ‘usual’ one, the class. I imagine that you wowed them, Tara. You have many wise words to share. I’m proud of you for doing just that! Congrats for saying ‘yes’!

  6. I have been following your blog long enough to know you were the perfect person to share this important perspective! How exciting! How fortunate we had such a thoughtful, reflective, and wonderful educator to represent us.

  7. Impressive and wonderful experience. I am so happy you said “Yes.” I wrote on Saturday on my blog about my first public speaking experience (much smaller scale event than yours). Scary and exciting at the same time. I wish you will have more opportunities to make a speech. You have a strong message and your knowledge and experience give it high value.

  8. Congratulations, Tara! What a thrilling experience for you, and how fortunate for us that you were there to be the eloquent voice for teachers in the trenches. As others have mentioned, I’d love to read your speech and hope you’ll share it here.

  9. I know your words were perfect and conveyed what matters. So smart of Meenoo Rami to ask you. I’m so glad you said yes! Thank you for being a spokesperson for all I know to be true and important in education. Proud to call you a friend!

  10. I have no doubt your words spoke to everything you wanted them to –your words are always clear, powerful and beautifully written. The Gates were lucky to have you … as is the profession. Thanks for all you do!!

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