“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.” Amy Fast @fastcranny
Courageous communication is extremely powerful. With one tweet and a 40-minute follow-up phone call, Rosa Perez–Isiah changed the priorities of our learning community.
Rosa is a veteran educator and principal based in Southern California. I discovered Rosa during an exceptionally engaging Twitter chat she was moderating. Rosa was artfully posing a litany of penetrating questions that provoked a lively and thoughtful discussion.
One question she posted moved me from lurker to engager:
The responses to her tweet suggested that I was not the only one seduced into deeper thought by her question. The rest of the chat was robust and her post continued to resonate on Twitter for days.
For me, her question was a clarifying, encouraging, galvanizing and an indicting dose of reality. It triggered a tsunami of follow-up questions:
- How much is moral courage a part of the learning communities of which I’m a member?
- How does moral courage impact our ability to make a difference?
- What inhibits moral courage and what encourages it?
- What impact is moral courage (or the absence of moral courage) having in education?
- At BAM Radio Network the moral courage buck stops with me. What kind of job am I doing at setting the tone for courageous behavior in our learning community?
Talking at the Surface
We all know that there is often a gap between what we think and what we say. Call it diplomacy, discretion, a filter or fear, some of the most:
conversations we *could have* with each other are stillborn. They are killed by murky social dynamics we don’t fully understand or discuss.
For almost a decade, I’ve struggled to reconcile the gap between the education discussions we produce for public consumption and the ones we routinely hear in private. Too often we’ve ended interviews with the feeling that the most meaningful and valuable exchanges occurred before and after we went “on air.” But how could we possibly change that?
Rosa and I eventually ended up on a call, sharing thoughts, experiences and war stories about moral courage in education. We mused about how courage plays a role at almost every level.
- It takes courage to be candid with kids and say, “I don’t know; let’s figure it out together.”
- It takes courage to navigate challenging parent/teacher discussions when there’s disagreement about what’s right for the student.
- It takes courage to resist a culture, policies or programs that may be a disservice to kids.
- It takes courage to act on principle when doing so might mean unemployment.
- It takes courage to speak to the elephants in the room that often show up when discussing everything from assessments to professional development and culturally responsive instruction.
The Follow-Up Call
Many educators believe passionately that education can change lives and feel called to teach. Similarly, we’ve seen the powerful impact media can have on our lives and feel called to use media to make a difference in education.
This is why the call with Rosa led to a tectonic shift at BAM Radio. Before Rosa, we were willing to simply amplify the voices of thoughtful educators from across the community. Post Rosa, we feel compelled to facilitate, model and encourage more courageous, transparent on- air conversations. We feel a heightened obligation to close the gap between the “good” on-air interviews we’ve helped to produce and the “great” discussions that routinely occur offline. So we begin 2016 in relentless pursuit of more courageous conversations.
Leading the Way
We’re thrilled to kickoff that campaign with a new show by Dr. Brad Gustafson @GustafsonBrad and Ben Gilpin @benjamingilpin. It’s called UnearthED and their commitment to deeper, different discussions has already yielded extraordinary reviews:
“These guys are amazing. I’ve never heard such honest dialogue.” – G-Family384
“ This show has a different feel. I love the honest commentary and questions.” - Eii508
“UnearthED launches Twitter chats into a whole new stratosphere! This is the conversation I’ve been looking for.” - Rose653
We Lead ED Radio:
We’re equally excited that Rosa Perez- Isiah @RosaIsiah will be bringing her courageous and experienced voice to BAM Radio‘s leadership channel. Every exchange I’ve had with Rosa has been thought provoking. We’re confident that she is going to encourage us all to dig a little deeper.
The Innovator’s Mindset:
Also new on BAM Radio for 2016 is George Couros @gcouros. George is bringing his courageous and innovative ideas to the network as part of the Innovator’s Mindset collaboration with Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher. If you love George’s thinking, you’ll love the exchanges with Vicki on the new series.
The collaboration continues with Angela Maiers @AngelaMaiers. Angela courageously persisted to start a movement around a simple, obvious truth - “you matter.” Angela and Vicki will host Mattering Mondays on BAM Radio Network. Every other week they will share the courageous mindset and tools you need to let students, peers, administrators and parents know that they matter.
Eric Sheniger @E_Sheninger is one of the most courageous education leaders I’ve met. He’s coming back to BAM Radio Network with his three-minute episodes on creating schools that work for kids.
Finally, under the heading of practice what you preach, I will return to the air to host UNward! The show is a passion project about the UNconventional, UNcommon, UNtraditional, UNorthodox, anything but UNimaginative people, ideas and organizations driving education forward.
If Not Now, When?
“We're seeing extreme conditions, unlike anything we've seen before.” - Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Whether or not we acknowledge it daily, we are living in exceptional times. Barely a week goes by in which some pundit doesn’t admit, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” It’s slowly become clear to all that our times demand fresh thinking and exceptional courage.
" Our job is not to ‘prepare’ kids for something; our job is to help kids learn to prepare themselves for anything."
How do we do prepare for the unknown? Neither your hairdresser nor Google knows for sure. All we know is that what got us here, won’t get us there! We’ll all have to be ready to reinvent ourselves, our programs, our organizations and our approaches to the challenges we face in real-time. Jon Harper’s @Jonharper70bd must-read post, What a Difference a Week Can Make, drove this point home with humility, compassion and yes, courage!
"A lot can change quickly. So we must be alert. And we must be ready when that opening appears. Because sometimes all it takes is one small gesture to make a big difference."
So as we jump head first into the deep end of 2016, we’re excited to see where the road ahead will lead. As we reinvent the BAM Radio learning community, we hope to support more relevant, more riveting, more meaningful, more helpful, more useful, and more courageous conversations that matter. Why? Because as Todd Nesloney @TechNinjaTodd says repeatedly, #Kidsdeserveit!