This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By Jennifer Lanas
I get the biggest kick out of this time of year. It’s exhilarating seeing nature in full-bloom. From the nostalgic vantage point of my eleven-year-old self, I’m living in a kaleidoscopic prism of wonder. The world is alive; bursting with infinite possibilities!
Yet, for any possibility to develop, it must be supported. How might we increase the probability that our endeavors develop into an actionable reality?
I firmly believe that it begins with being very intentional about making the space and time to think deeply, explore our curiosities, and practice compassion.
From my perspective, it begins within the context of our relationships. It is incumbent upon us to show loving kindness towards ourselves and others, unceasingly. We have an innate capacity to learn by following our curiosity and discovering things we are passionate about. Perhaps we start by giving ourselves the permission to take risks and treat ourselves with compassion as we attempt to learn new concepts—to fidget, get frustrated, fail...a little and a lot, forgive ourselves and others, seek and find inspiration, and get back at it—it’s a process. Not necessarily in that order. Life is a messy, beautiful process. Let’s allow ourselves to build relationships upon that foundation.
When we come together as a cohort, we reflect upon the meaning behind this messy and beautiful process in the most spectacular ways. Tinkering with problems, unearthing thought-provoking questions, arriving at insights, and authoring game plans for taking action… these are all purposeful outcomes moving us forward.
Success stories rarely come delivered in such a tidy package outside of the laboratory or a contrived sitcom. My partner and I will have filled out three change of address forms between last August and this June. In the past ten months, I have become quite adept at navigating new cities, traversing public transit networks, and authoring creative reasons to put-off unpacking those last few boxes that are patiently waiting to go on another adventure—another reason to practice compassion. Life is messy and beautiful and we must be open to possibilities that pull us in unexpected directions: new jobs, life events, the pursuit of dreams… and as long as you are dreaming, you might as well dream big! Dig deep into your own experiences and you will know exactly what I am talking about.
I’m glad my husband is such a supportive partner-in-crime and co-conspirator. Especially in this, my first year working outside of the classroom. I have logged miles criss-crossing the country and wearing a variety of hats, assuming interesting roles. Some of you met me at workshops in Ohio or West Virginia, or maybe you have known me for years as an educator and ally/advocate for youth. Just consider me a #FluencyFriend plugged into Pittsburgh’s inclusive innovation ecosystem. It is a comfort and a blessing that Fernando’s compassion and encouragement has helped me to thrive in all of those roles, as he has been my champion and thinking partner in this messy, beautiful stage of the journey that I am on.
What is Fluency? This is the question that three cohorts of teachers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio have pondered for three years. As #TheFluencyProject enters its fourth year, expanding into Kentucky there are three key takeaways:
Let’s call it “real life for real people”. I’ll mentor you and you’ll mentor me.The future is being written—and we have the chance to shape how it sounds. I am glad that you are on my team. This opportunity of a lifetime is made possible because we are compassionate to ourselves and our community. And it is in trust and faith that we promise to allow ourselves the fullness of space and time to develop meaningful encounters with our own thinking and learning. Because While Our Hands Are Busy, Our Minds Are Free To Wander.
My fascination on the subject of practicing compassion and developing learning agility comes from a few places, notably: