Professional Learning

Finding and Sharing Hope in Schools in 2015

January 21, 2015

"The key to the future of the world is finding the hopeful stories and letting them be known." -- Pete Seeger

What might happen if we collectively took Seeger's words to heart and this was our goal for 2015? If we spent an entire year focused on finding and sharing hopeful stories? If we looked in individual classrooms, in cities, plains, and deserts, on the borders and on reservations for stories of hope?

If we sat with little children, and medium-sized kids, and the big ones, too, and asked them: "What would you change if you could change anything about your school, our country, our world?" Would we see glimmers of hope?

What might happen if we created professional development for teachers that had as a goal to let stories of hope be known?

What might happen if teachers were rewarded for the stories of hope they could bring to a table and broadcast and publish? If those were stories told by the kids themselves and their communities, and the teacher's role was to facilitate that telling, to build the stage, to host the event?

What kinds of data reports and graphs and charts would we scrutinize if we were measuring stories of hope? Or would those be relegated to dusty files, and instead we'd make eye contact with each other and tell stories and feel the constriction in our throats as we were reminded of what can be?

What might we learn about our most struggling students, about the ones who drive us crazy and push all our buttons and always forget their homework, what might we learn about them if we were searching for stories of hope? What might we learn about our most vulnerable students, those without a homeland, a parent, a meal each day, if we were driven to make their stories of hope be known?

What might we learn about ourselves if we engaged in a year-long inquiry into the hopeful stories in our schools? What could we learn about our capacities, our will, and our emotional resilience?

Would we learn that although we have a long way to go (a very, very long way) until all of our classrooms are places we'd leave our own babies, that, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice"?

Would we be able to identify some of the necessary conditions in which hope can flourish? Would we be able to more effectively replicate those conditions so that hope could spread throughout our schools? Would we learn that we can't continue to live without stories of hope?

Would we come to recognize the quality of the air that we need to breathe in order to create and tell our stories of hope? Would this recognition help us identify where to live and work in order to manifest stories of hope?

What would we learn? What could we do? How might we feel? Where might we go. . . if we were to devote this year to "finding the hopeful stories and letting them be known"?

In memory of Pete Seeger -- visionary, musician, writer, activist -- who did well, very well, finding and sharing stories of hope. With my deepest gratitude.

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