Healing, Connectedness, Changemaking

Updates from day 2 of Start Empathy’s Changemaker Education Summit, U.S.A

Words by Katie Petitt | Edited by Mohsin Mohi Ud Din

Teacher collaborations at #ChangemakerEd Summit #CMSS2017, New Mexico

How often do you feel invisible, or feel self-doubt?

Overall, some of us may find comfort and even a little satisfaction in our lives through our work, our families, and our friends. We appreciate the small victories and the intimate moments when we connect with the people we work with.

We might celebrate when the youth in our lives accomplish their goals, and when we know we played a small role in their journey. Even still, sometimes we (teachers, parents, youth organizations) question our value and if the work we do is making meaningful impact.

I have known many dedicated teachers in my life. They put in long hours, pouring their hearts and souls into their work, into their students, their student’s parents, and their school. The educators at the 2017 Changemaker Education Summit unquestionably fall into this type of teacher.

The passion they are filling throughout the space of the Summit at New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch is palpable. Yet, being visionaries in education and changemakers in the classroom does not come without moments of tension and doubt: ‘Am I fulfilling a role in this important movement to breathe new life and pioneer fresh approaches in this country’s education system?’.

Some teachers often find themselves wondering if they are alone in this quest of re-imagining education to unlock the full of potential of children and youth.

Today, the 85 educators brought to this #ChangemakerEd Summit affirmed two things: that they have a verse to contribute in the education movement as a connected community of teachers; and that they are not alone.

Through the surrounding beauty, through the shutting off of technology, through conversations, teacher-led knowledge sharing sessions, vulnerability, reconnecting to their stories, these teachers have found each other in this space.

Teacher collaborations at #ChangemakerEd Summit, 2017 | #CMSS2017

Howard Teitelbaum of Dr. Orlando Edreira Academy School 26., reflected that “Yesterday we found ourselves. Today we found each other.” This morning, we crossed the threshold from the ‘me’ to the ‘we’ and the feeling amongst the changemakers is one of a connected, affirming community ready to build and dream together as a Changemaker School Network.

At the center of the ‘we’ for these educators are the students. As the morning of connection turned into afternoon, students from Native American Community Academy (NACA) joined the conversation, reminding both Ashoka and the educators what motivates our work and centering us all in student voices. 8 NACA youth stood in front of the meeting hall to offer healing and wisdom to those of us who were in person as well as the educators plugging into the conversation from around the world.

Students from NACA present to teachers at the Summit, 2017

In this time together, the students shared a deep understanding of a traditional Native American teaching of the Medicine Wheel. The youth taught on the importance of connecting to the medicine that we bring to others, our unique way of showing up for others and taking care of them. They asked the teachers to reflect and share on how in the process of healing the ‘me’ can heal the ‘we.’

Seventeen-year-old John Cummings said: “When you center yourself, and heal yourself you also share healing with those around you.”

These self-aware students went on to teach about the inter-connectedness we have to each other and the earth, echoing their teacher Henry Jake Foreman who said: “What happens to the land happens to the people.”

The desire for intimacy and connection is found in a vulnerable holistic community. For this to manifest, it needs to involve everyone and be connected to the land around us because the vision for happy fulfilled teachers and students is for the here and now, but is built for the generations to come.

NACA and the other changemaker students and educators are cultivating change rooted in understanding this calling and are putting words into actions as they cultivate empathy together.

Day 2 has reminded us that change comes from connecting to who you are, finding your people, and then doing something about it. The conversations have begun; the relationships are being built; and the Network of Changemaker Schools is already building something powerful. YOU are invited to join us.

Follow continuing updates on Ashoka’s Twitter or Start Empathy’s Facebook page, which has live webcasts and teacher reflections. Explore the digital conversations using hashtags #ChangemakerEd and #CMSS2017. Engage with our national Changemaker School network, or nominate a school here.

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