Teachers Making Lemonade

When Beyonce released her album Lemonade last spring, she revealed her life. She laid open all of her struggles for the world to see. The world caught a glimpse into her marriage. We caught a glimpse into her beliefs about her marriage. She opened herself up to the criticisms of the world. She opened herself up to judgement by people who have no idea.

But the critics loved the album. The notion that she released it as a visual album  first was something new and different and caught the world’s attention. She created an album that is a journey, an internal journey. She created an album for the world to see her heart, to see her in the place of life she finds herself.

The album is so personal she even included a clip where her grandmother talks about making lemonade out of lemons she’s been served.

When people get vulnerable, when they work for that which they most deeply believe, they earn the respect of many. They bring more people into their circles. They create a space for others to engage in vulnerability and openness.

This school year I am embarking on something just like this. I believe to my core what I was taught in my work with the National Writing Project – that teachers will solve any problem we put in front of them. When we give teachers the space to be innovative, they will empower their students to do great things in the world.

The dream that I created with my group of four: Tina Barber, Christine Jones, Angela Gallagher, and Christine Archer-Davison, is about to become a reality. Teachers in my building are going to work together to solve problems together. Our vision is that our teachers will examine student work together to make choices that will help our students become better at whatever it is we’re teacher. The idea is that teachers, through discussion and reflection, will figure out how to be even better than they already are.

I can’t wait to see the amazing things our teachers empower our students to do.

But I am white-knuckle scared. I am afraid of the naysayers. I am afraid that we lose focus. I am afraid that teachers won’t see what I see, that their power is so much greater than many of them realize.

I know that when we do what is in our hearts, what we know is true to our core, we must follow. We have to see what it has to offer or we will never know. Queen Bey taught me this. She showed me that to take a risk, to plan your risk carefully, will present the world with something new and something more awesome than it knew before.

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