The Journey Begins with Me
No matter how old we are or what we do, we, as educators, recognise the need to continue to develop ourselves in a multitude of ways. For the purposes of this guide, we are looking at becoming even more culturally aware, equity focused, inclusively minded, and justice seeking in our work as educators. This is the focus of growth that we are looking at for ourselves and our schools. This growth is challenging on many fronts. On one front, this work challenges our way of seeing ourselves as educators and leaders of schools where the place where only children grow and develop as adults are to be ‘done growing’ and are to set the course. We are also in the process of identity formation and in the process of becoming who we can be. It is this tension we face as leaders, teachers, and staff in a school to recognise no matter our ages, we are all works in progress and to stretch and engage this work of diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging should be a stretch edge for us –—a way of working in which we learn and unlearn mindsets, practices and skills that impact our work and our world.
We have many good reasons to be become more developed human beings. We need now, more than ever, to think with complexity and increase our awareness and empathy. We are living in a world where civil discourse across political lines is so challenging that many have checked out and are too uncomfortable to speak up and out around injustice. We are living in societies and within school cultures shaped by colonialism with systemic and institutional racism in our practices and systems, and we live with inequities that create tremendous impacts on all of us, in and outside of our school buildings. We as educators in all roles within a school need to stretch at our edges in order to be in conversation around these ever important topics and to move us forward as schools and as a society.
Michael Fullan, in his book Nuance: Why Some Leaders Succeed and Others Fail (2018) writes about those who have a “curiosity about what is possible, openness to other people, sensitivity to context, and loyalty to a better future.” He writes for leaders who “are courageously and relentlessly committed to changing the system for the betterment of humanity.” This guide is written for readers who are relentlessly committed to changing systems for the betterment of humanity through the work of developing themselves as human beings and educators wanting to be more equitable, and inclusive in their deeds and words.
As you begin, ask yourself these questions:
- What will it take for each of us, as individuals, to take responsibility for the energy we bring into this work?
- What skills do we need to learn and what mindsets do we need to cultivate to be a learner on this journey of international school educators working for more inclusion in their schools?