Things I Know 161 of 365: There’s a whole lot of awesome out there

No shame in saying that I felt a loneliness drifting through me. Funny how it was, everyone perched in their own little world with the deep need to talk, each person with their own tale, beginning in some strange middle point, then trying so hard to tell it all, to have it all make sense, logical and final.

– Colum McCann

Tim and Tanya like to have a reason to have a party. Last Saturday was a great example.

The invitation was open.

The event was named – The Day of Awesomeness.

The rules were simple – come join the fun, be ready to share some part of your awesomeness with the rest of the guests. Anything was fair game.

Seriously, that’s what we invited people to.

Thinly veiled by Tim’s birthday and my approaching departure, the day was really about awesomeness.

It lived up to its name.

Emily and I led the guests in about 10 minutes of improv warm-ups which had everyone moving and laughing.

Roz taught us the proper way to make frosting and frost a cake.

Tim taught us both the timeline of life on Earth as well as the difference between oaken and unbaked Chardonnays.

Marcie taught us how to draw a portrait that looked like a person more than it looks like a Peanuts character.

Steven taught us about industrial exhibit design.

Tim’s sister Meg hosted a round of trivia built around Tim’s life.

Most of the people in attendance were my colleagues at SLA. We do a tremendous job of speaking the same language of SLA every day. Our thinking on benchmarks, core values, backwards design, ethic of care and the many other components of the school is largely in sync.

For the day of awesomeness, we got to see and share the other passions that drive our lives. Much to the boredom of everyone else, we could have sat around and talked curriculum or policy. We could have tweaked classes or completed cross-curricular planning.

We didn’t, and we were better for it.

I wrote a while ago about the idea of passion-based PD. This was as close as I’ve been able to get to seeing it in action.

It was a concrete example of the best kind of learning I can imagine. “Here, I think this is fun and interesting,” everyone was saying, “Can I help you try it out?”

And we all agreed to give it a try.

We cross-pollinated our passions.

The next time I sit down to consider my perspective on an issue, I’ll remember Marcie explaining that most people draw the eyes of a face too close to the top when our eyes are really about halfway from the top of our heads to the middle of our faces. I’ll let that inform my understanding of the fact that how I am perceiving something and the actuality of what is in front of me are often wholly different.

The same is true of the people in front of me. Understanding Roz’s love of baking connected to her passion for physics helps me see her more completely. Frequently I worry about regressing to the same myopic view of others in my life that I had as a student in middle school. It was this view that made it so jarring when I saw one of my teachers at a Schnucks or Applebees.

How did they exist outside of school? Were those jeans they were wearing? Did I still need to raise my hand to talk to them?

The Day of Awesomeness reminded me that we teach children, and we do so much more. We have passion for our profession, and we have passion for our lives. One need not supersede the other. In fact, the more our passions intermingle, the more enriching it can all become.

I definitely see more days of awesomeness in my future. Consider this a standing invitation to attend.

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