Writing out of the humanity side of it all:
In the Introduction I lay the groundwork.
We are either blessed or burdened with one life on this tiny speck of dust, in a universe we can’t begin to truly comprehend or define, for purposes we may never know, and maybe weren’t meant to or don’t need to know. If you lean into believing there even is a purpose, and/or a demanding, all-knowing old guy in the sky doing all the work, you should honor blessings with real efforts, not just assume a merit badge or a train ride home for saying you believe. So when faculty meeting requests for ideas regarding how to best spend extra funds and invest efforts in the wake of COVID-19 began, it rolled me through that honor-my-blessings (and opportunity?) process.
Sure, I was a little leery. I’ve been in plenty of meetings where ideas are enthusiastically called for and collected. I’ve been disappointed. Pieces of chart paper hung all over with multicolored marker wish-lists/what do you needs/what should we dos in a wide variety of handwriting styles, fonts and sizes. That part was cool, I love it when collaboration and creation happen-we need more of that. It helps strengthen community and build spirit if it’s done right.
It was almost always the same sort of stuff on those lists, though. Math facts. Phonics. Fluency. Explicit, direct instruction in handwriting. A packaged, produced and published curriculum that takes all the guesswork out of delivering content and interventions and gives lotsa books and copies to be made. Some rare glimmers of inspiration. Some definite worn down copier issues to come.
But when there was a call for Enrichment proposals, I was excited. There had been directives to think big, think “out of the box”, to think of something because we haven’t been able to move the needle on test scores for about ten years. I felt as if in the midst of a chaotic pandemic recovery, state-level decision-makers and NYSED had woken up and decided to leave behind the past ten years of their poisoned paradigm. They were sending word down from above to empower the people actually doing the job of educating children. Like they now really did want to hear from teachers and give them some say.
And to suggest Enrichment! To me it felt like a dare. Like I might be taken off the leash.
It felt like the universe was ringing.
I’ll explain the ringing in a sec.
An Enrichment proposal in this situation shouldn’t be an individual application or an audition for an isolated opportunity. It shouldn’t be a “Hey, here’s this suggestion that’s specifically for me and some cool thing I’ve always wanted to do with a few kids,” type thing. That’s not very inspiring or enriching. To me, a proposal is a great big, collaborative deal.
For example, a proposal is me having the nerve to suggest to a beautiful young woman who is still way too good for me that she spend the one life she has on me, and a request that she allow me to spend my one life trying to prove what we make of it together was worth her while in the end. It might sound a little melodramatic, but looking back, the universe rang the moment I was introduced to her, when I purposely held her hand a little longer than I should have for a simple pleased-to-meet-you handshake.
I think about how lucky I am today for having had that moment, and I hear that ring from way-back-then.
So in honor of the blessing and the ringing in my head:
Once some tiny bit of that vast, magical unknowable (sourced from science or the divine) is captured, then mixed with some piss and rubber from melted down tires, with the magical ending of an ass getting inked onto this jailhouse called Earth…I gotta believe that creation comes with obligation. An obligation to listen for that ringing, and to try and make it happen for others.
That’s where Enrichment begins.