Note to self: If you ever organize another conference, provide a quiet space for reflection, decompression throughout the conference. Educators, trainers, high touch professionals need a place to simply be together, in silence, in joy and grief. A place to unburden our souls without words. Perhaps a sand mandala or a labyrinth to build – together – time permitting or, at the very least, offer participants a badge of silence for those willing to participate in a verbal fast for some or all of the programme.
Attended break out sessions on Supporting Resilience in Expatriate Families, Best Practices for Global Teams, Creating Spaces for Sharing Grief and Hope and, my personal favorite, Personal Leadership. I took many notes and was happily inspired with new questions among which was the following:
If we acknowledge higher ed institutions’ increasing globalization and historic balkanization, and view tenured faculty as a protected class, can the classroom be considered a high-risk zone ?
At the end of a long day, the Keynote began at 8:15 and the last session ended at 6 p.m., in time for the Dine Around Denver, six of us headed over to 8 Rivers, a Caribbean restaurant. Their mac and cheese was singular, mango salsa fabulous, and sweet potato fries savory, if not crisp enough as my colleague had hoped.
Walking the very short distance back to the hotel the mile high city made its presence felt. The combination of altitude, dehydration, and cold air [flurries had fallen in the early morning hours] gave one pause. I sat down immediately as we entered the lobby.
I missed the opportunity to post last night while away at a conference because I was besotted with the chance to respond to students’ email with a colleague as captive audience by my side. It is rare in the extreme to have someone with whom to commiserate while grading papers so I took advantage of us all.
Teaching, like parenting, is a thankless profession for which nothing can truly prepare one. Experience itself is unreliable because as soon as you solve for X, Y presents itself in X clothing. Go figure. So, for my money, good company with good food is the best palliative.
Thinking I had a plane to catch, I’d dismissed today’s classes with an essay assignment in preparation for the upcoming exit exam. Thinking the better of working at home once I realized I’d jumped the gun by a day, I arrived on campus in sufficient time to grab my gradebook from the office and head to the classroom. One student was already inside and two more entered within minutes. Facetiously, one apologized for interrupting my efforts to grade their work, while another confessed to being confused as to whether my conference was this week or next. The third simply admitted that it was easier to come here and study for another class than go anywhere else and so we all did our own thing, more or less, together. Each asked a question about something class-related before the period was over and I got the tip of my dreams, a prayer answered really. One student told me of a green community not too far from where I used to live. Immediately, I said a giant thank you to Jesus. Confirmation comes from the strangest places! The email below was waiting when I returned to the office. It was too good not to share, no matter how many times it’s been passed around. It’s new to me!
I dreamed that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, “This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received.”
I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.
Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.
The angel then said to me, “This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them.”
I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.
Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. “This is the Acknowledgment Section,” my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.
“How is it that there is no work going on here?” I asked.
“So sad,” the angel sighed. “After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments.”
“How does one acknowledge God ‘ s blessings?” I asked.
“Simple,” the angel answered. Just say, “Thank you, Lord.”
“What blessings should they acknowledge?” I asked.
“If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world ‘ s wealthy.”
“And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity.”
“If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.”
“If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 700 million people in the world.”
“If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are envied by and more blessed than three billion people in the world.”
“If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare.”
“If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm. You ‘ re unique to all those in doubt and despair.”
“Okay. What now? How can I start? ‘
If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special, and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
Have a good day. Count your blessings . And if you care to, pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.
ATTN: Acknowledge Dept.
“Thank you Lord for giving me the ability to share this message and for giving me so many wonderful people with whom to share it.”
Taxes, travel, too through.
“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”
John F. Kennedy
I reach chapter two in The Art of Possibility and begin fantasizing at once about what might result if I assigned the A letter to each student in my Basic Writing classes. At present, they end the semester writing their Legacy to incoming students, explaining how they learned what they did and offering advice and encouragement. I suppose if I said I like your idea better that would still be within the world of measurement but perhaps it is an idea whose time has come to my classes.
Then too, I imagined what would change if I approached every class as a dance lesson. I am reading your book during a dinner, sola, at the Red Shrimp Company. Aster Piazzola plays through my Nano headset but this is not why the metaphor presents itself. In the deepest part of who I am I believe myself to be a dancer though I stopped dancing, taking lessons, going out, years ago. The muse returned in time for my oral defense a couple years ago though, and brought with her everything I needed to tie my research, my teaching practice, and dissertation together.
But I am certain much would shift if I used that as an invitation to connect the content and with each other. Well, it’s nearing time for bed and I’m contemplating writing an A letter myself. Thanks for being inspired and spreading it around.
Is it possible that the recent budget update sent as an email to All could have been retrieved by the sender or Big Brother before I got to open and read it? I’m sure I’d seen it while preparing for the Great Online Teacher’s Retreat and had decided to open it afterward, when I’d hoped to have had more attention for its contents. Turns out someone received and read it who attended the retreat and told me how to read between the lines. So, when I went looking for it today, I knew what I was in for. Little did I know I’d be in for both more and less. I’ll email the sender from SIETAR. Perhaps distance will lend enchantment, as my Gam was fond of saying.