The only place real change occurs

My original intent for this site was to create a Teaching E-portfolio as part of my practice as Niagara College faculty member. College professors are being encouraged to publish portfolios online to engage students, stimulate discussion about pedagogy and course content, and keep a record of our accomplishments and scholarship of teaching.

That’s all well and good. I can easily write up my teaching philosophy statement and talk about how I dive into any professional learning opportunity I can. But, I can’t fully engage in the online portfolio process without leaning into some sweet discomfort myself. And, for me, that includes blogging. Publishing my writing ranks high on my list of uncomfortable tasks. Therefore, very much needs to be integrated into my practice of high vibration teaching, learning and living.

I was a blogger once before in, what seems like, another life. It was a short stint— first as a journalist for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, then as an advocate for the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. As part of said blogging career, I was featured on the cover of the Toronto Star, on CTV’s Canada AM, and several radio stations. Many, many eyes and ears were on me. I was celebrated. I was criticized. I re-watched my vlogs with rosy cheeked disbelief and self-doubt set in. Does my voice actually sound like that? Am I witty enough… thin enough… creative enough? Did I actually say that?…Wear that? What did people think of that? I couldn’t believe I put myself out there the way I did, all cares to the wind. My ego convinced me I was irresponsible, out of control even. My fear led me to just fade into the blogosphere’s mist, safe from harm and uncertainty’s way. And, I’ve missed blogging ever since.

I look back on those blogs, vlogs and media appearances and smile. Pride even. While I could have given into my fear, my love for the art of it all was leading me. I was communicating, through writing and video producing, to the fullest expression of myself. It felt exhilarating, even if self-conscious or vulnerable at times.

Now, I’m reaching out to catch the next proverbial trapeze. I’m leaping into the void between the unknown and the safe (non-blogging) platform where I’ve been sitting. In Danaan Parry‘s Parable of the Trapeze, this is called “transition.” And Danaan says it brilliantly, “I have come to believe that this transition is the only place that real change occurs.” So, if I want change, grow and transform as an educator, blogging about teaching and learning is the next trapeze.

If you have 6 minutes, please give yourself the gift of watching/listening to The Parable of the Trapeze:

Trapeze artists er… Students that work with me have the opportunity to practice leaning in to their fears as well —be it fear about public speaking or anxiety about teamwork or dreading “getting it wrong”… With courageous experimentation inside our classroom laboratory, we build confidence in ourselves for next time. We give and get meaningful feedback and embrace each other’s humanity and diversity. We learn how to “fail” gracefully, reflect and move on with greater wisdom. These lessons are not easy to learn. They are challenging. And, they are the juicy ingredients that transformation is made of.

Transformation, new ways of thinking and acting, innovation (real change) only happen when we step outside that familiar old box of comfort. Experiencing the awkward parts of change is essential to reaping its benefits. So, dare I say formal education should be a place where we are encouraged to get to know those “in transit” feelings that challenge us at first, like fear and uncertainty. They come with us along the learning journey anyway, why not give them some credit? We need to get in the habit of welcoming the feelings for being the natural, temporary, teachers they are… the ones that can lead to our best learning and growth.

Cheers to loving transition and to hanging out in that place a while.

Never heard of Danaan Parry? He was a helicopter pilot, physicist, clinical psychologist and real-life superhero. In 1980, Danaan founded the Earthstewards Network, then Holy Earth Foundation, which is dedicated to inspiring and empowering ordinary people to stretch, grow and learn in the name of conflict transformation.

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