by John Sarrouf
These are the weavings of two incredible days listening to presenters and educators in
conversation about the important work of dialogue, equity, and educating the whole
We were welcomed so wonderfully by our hosts at ECLC and again by our hosts at Endicott
with the kind of care that allows us to lean into the day together.
From the very beginning we were attended to - our need for Status, Certainty, Autonomy,
Relatedness, and Fairness - even our nametags gave us a sense of autonomy and self
expression, breaking down the status that might divide us - no hierarchies - no titles telling us who is a superintendent and who the para?
We talked about moving from transactional to encountering
From “I - It” to “I - Thou”.
We shared our stories of the wise people who shaped the values that bring us here - heard
people finding connection, curiosity, gratitude and humor.
We asked: What kind of space are you trying to create in your schools, classrooms,
communities? How do you create spaces where the whole of a person is welcomed?
We talked about ”Threat” and its impact on us, conflict and our history with it. What did we learn from those early experiences? Which lessons from our youth may no longer serve us to have these difficult conversations in our lives now?
What do you want to promote? What do you want to prevent?
Transformational structures for transformational conversations for transformational relationships.
You had a dialogue about how you share yourself as an educator and the values and
experiences that inform what and how much you share. Behind every belief is a person with a story.
Your colleagues shared the wisdom of an enormous amount of work they have done over the
You are finding ways to make space for the whole person - the human being before the content.
Equity means understanding the whole person and what they need to succeed.
Debbie gives us the permission to “be here without all the answers” and we are not here
because we are perfect, but because we are obsessed with doing this better. How do we live
into the best version of ourselves that we can imagine?
The first on the list is Getting ourselves to slow down!
Replay and Pre-play. Reflecting and preparing. Practicing how to be our best selves when we
need it most. Replay and Pre-play: getting good at being our best selves.
Take a 90 seconds
What is one thing you are taking from this day?
What is one question that you are holding?
Personalizing a system
Think of a conversation that did not go well:
Were any of those dominant culture
What is one thing you could change about that conversation
I want you to replay that conversation in your mind (take 1 min)
How long have you felt this way
Is there something that caused you to feel this way?
Can you imagine ...something different?
A joy to be among teachers generously learning from and teaching one another.
When we teach college professors - these lessons about teaching are a revelation -
when we do these workshops with teachers like yourselves these lessons are a
recognition of what you are already doing intuitively or through your hard work and
training - we learn more than we teach and then we pass that on to others - you refine our
thinking and understand.
Your questions and challenges are gifts.
The moments when we don’t have a good answer for you are the moments we feel most
curious with you.
We started the day Doing Diversity - not Done diversity
Craig and Hong share some assumptions about where we are: Educators want to do right by
students - All situations are intersectional - we will not be perfect.
We have heard again and again - Practice here - in this space - with your trusted colleagues -
Prepare and practice for the moments when we know we will need to have the language and
the frameworks to support our students, teachers, administrators, parents and community.
We explored Agency - how do we do our best job within the constraints - we are given. Later
Gary and Carrisa invited us to dangerously challenge those constraints.
Good questions: Show concern, invite details and emotions beyond the words, are genuine and open-ended, and let me talk about things that I care and am wise about, let me focuses on relationship and “human-ness”. Curiosity is contagious. Good questions beget good
Can we design the questions that invite the conversations we want to have?
What do we do when confronted with difficult people - or the difficult parts of people?
Do you have an Obligation to engage? No! You do not have an obligation on a personal level
to engage with someone who feels toxic to you. So - the lesson/question here is “Do you have agency, choices, and tools to engage if you want to or when it will serve your purposes of doing your job well? Do you feel empowered? And when you do not have a choice to disengage - when you cannot withdraw from the relationship, how can you do it better?”
Christina invited us to Center educator well-being - modeling for our students - creating spaces where there is so much well being that we create the possibility of learning rather than the just protecting ourselves from as sense of threat.
Well being - We have to make time for this. The costs are too high not to!
Emotional Well-being: Excited and Content vs. Anxious and Depressed - What can I do?
Social Well-being: Connectedness, social inclusion, concern for others, being yourself -
bringing yourself - what can we do?
Workplace well being: Accomplishment and Purpose - what resources do we need to
We returned to the need for knowing the individual human - getting granular - paying attention to jaggedness - because we have diversity among us and different people need different things.
I wondered if we can dialogue not just across two differences, but to reveal all the wonderful differences that exist.
If equity in well being demands understanding the particular of things- because different
districts, different roles, different learners, different students, different teachers need different things, Then well-being and engagement demands a deeper knowing and perhaps dialogue allows us a deeper knowing.
And we hear: “But I have so much to do?” So then Allyson reminds us to use make this a part
of what we are already doing? Start small and work up. Dr. Christina reminds us that we are
more effective at doing what we have to do when we do it with well-being in mind.
There are dangerous conversations that need to be had. Why are they dangerous and
dangerous for whom? How do we make space for those conversations? There are so many
ways to step in it.
Can we make them less dangerous? But just as meaningful? With a good question, perhaps
dialogue makes this possible.
There were layers upon layers through these 2-3 days, circles coming around to meet at the
beginning - more questions and every answer inviting a new and deeper question.
I am reminded of a poem by Wendell Berry
Wendel Berry - Our real work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.