This weekend, I was surrounded by close to 10,000 people -- teachers, school leaders, and other educators -- who chose to attend the ASCD annual conference (#ASCD13) in Chicago. There were many important ideas to share -- and I will do so in future posts -- but I wanted most immediately to share with you my thoughts listening to Maya Angelou. In a room of 10,000, Ms. Angelou made the space feel intimate by singing an old song with lyrics: "God puts rainbows in the clouds." She explained her belief that the rainbows in the clouds are there "so that each of us- in the dreariest and most dreaded moments- can see a possibility of hope." Angelou told her own life story and spoke about her own rainbows that allowed her to grow from a child who was selectively mute for several years into the woman, defying any label, that she is today. Then, she said to all of us, "YOU. You are the rainbows in the clouds."
We educators are lucky in that no matter what our school's circumstance, our every day work begins with hope. We come to school with the hope and optimism that today, we might change a life, light a fire, catch a moment of creativity that can one day change the world. We also hope that the minds we touch will not only be changed but that they will change others. Every day at Blue School, I cherish the responsibility to lead a school where it is possible, through our efforts, for children to do and practice the kind of thinking that can "make a ding in the universe." We do not take this responsibility lightly.
Angelou ended with the poem, Brave and Startling Truth that she wrote for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. These two final stanzas remind us that we represent the possible:
"When we come to it We, this people, on this wayward, floating body Created on this earth, of this earth Have the power to fashion for this earth A climate where every man and every woman Can live freely without sanctimonious piety Without crippling fear
When we come to it We must confess that we are the possible We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world That is when, and only when We come to it."
I am grateful to have the chance to come to it each day.