It’s time we celebrated it in our schools.
When we walk into Vermont schools, we see it. It’s there, every time, when our eyes scan the hallways, the classrooms, and the shared spaces. It’s #everydaycourage, and it lies at the heart of innovative education.
We see it in a hallway sign that says, “Here we lift all boats. You matter. You are welcome here and we succeed together.”
We see it when teachers and students sit in a circle on the floor together to discuss current events, and issues of race and identity, with compassion, respect, and empathy.
We see it when one teacher says to another, with respect, “I feel differently about that, and here is why.”
We see it when a teacher advocates for what a student needs in a meeting, often before or after school, and often working against a system that presents continual challenges.
— Samuel Nelson (@MrNelsonTeaches) May 26, 2017
It’s also online, in a tweet where a teacher bravely shares a new scale, or resource, for other teachers to use and give feedback about.
It’s there in a sign, posted by the teacher’s door, that says, “Observe Me.”
— Kyle Smith (@KyleHBHS) August 7, 2017
And, “let’s try this new tool and see what happens.”
We’re talking #everydaycourage.
Educators and students have it in spades. It’s often overlooked, undervalued, and not celebrated. So for the next five weeks, we’re trying to recognize and highlight moments of #everydaycourage in our schools.
We see the incredible, innovative work Vermont teachers do, and we want to celebrate the small and large moments of #everydaycourage that make up your teaching lives. We’re planning to do our part to recognize the brave acts that take place in our schools everyday. We’re hoping that we inspire a wave of positivity — we know our profession needs this.
There is no shortage of criticisms lobbed at teachers, and numerous challenges that persist in public education. But despite this, we see teachers showing up, trying new approaches, extending their professional knowledge to share with others, and connecting deeply with students to help them find meaning and purpose in their educations.
We are lucky that we get to walk with teachers and school leaders in this process, and hope that this campaign about #everydaycourage will expand into a chorus of #vted voices sharing photos, videos, posts and resources that celebrate the courage shown by Vermont’s teachers and students. We’ll share some of the many ways that Vermont educators are being courageous, whether it is by using a new technology tool to personalize learning, developing an action plan, or finding the one thing that works for a particular student who is struggling.
As researcher and author Brene Brown says in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead:
“We need more people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk and endure failure, disappointment and regret… people willing to own their stories, live their values, and keep showing up.”
Educators embody this.
Courage is not having all of the answers. It’s not just big, dramatic acts like running into a burning building. Courage is not planning perfect units that are implemented seamlessly. And it’s not being fearless. As Mark Twain put it, “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is acting in spite of it.”
Courage is about heart. Behind every great educator is an enormous heart. We’re going to have to work this fist-sized muscle to its capacity this year. We know you have this within you. It’s what brought your heart to this work.
Your students need to see this courage.
When we require that our students try new things, ask questions when they don’t understand, and work through challenges to come up with solutions, we are calling on them to exhibit courage. Students need to see adults in their lives being vulnerable, showing up, making mistakes and learning. Angela Duckworth calls it grit. Carol Dweck calls it growth mindset. What each of those theories have in common is that they require students to develop and manifest courage as learners.
We must exhibit that same courage ourselves, especially in recent days of racial violence and difficult news. We must show up and provide a safe place for students to understand the facts, share their feelings, and discuss potential ways to work for acceptance, peace, and equity. We must also honor the #everydaycourage shown by those students, as well.
We see you, educators and students, and we think it is time to celebrate and feature your bravery.
Use the hashtag #everydaycourage to share what you see — moments of teacher and student bravery and courage, on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and in your comments on our blogposts. Let’s lift each other up, honor moments of #everydaycourage, big and small. Because they all matter, each day, to students, in ways we may never know.