School Makes Me…

Yesterday I shared a photo shared by one of my facebook friends. When I first saw it, I had a visceral reaction – my gut literally lurched as I read the words in the image. This morning, as I saw my own friends react in very much the same way to the image, I decided to do some after the fact-checking.

Here is the original image:


I did my own search with the same terms and came up with this, not quite as descriptive but equally as disturbing:

20130128-055454.jpg, well in character, comes up with a slightly more optimistic version:


But things return to their dire straits with a slight change in the search terms:


So what does this mean, this assumption on the part of Google that school basically sucks? Since Google provides results based on popular searches…it means that when people type in ‘School makes me’ or ‘School gives me’ they very often complete their searches with those very sad qualifiers.

We have the power to change this.

On a googlish level, we need to start looking for hope. Start searching for the stories that portray school as a transformative space, full of hope, love, care, and relationships.

On a larger level, in our schools and centres, with our students and teachers, we need to live those stories. As educators, we need to be hopeful, loving, and caring. We need to connect with our students and with each other in a way that supports, in a way that ensures no one sees school as a lonely, sad, anxiety-ridden place.

It starts with caring.

We so have the power to change this.

Developing dreams, reaching our highest potential

“AI’s fundamental approach
of seeking to discover, honor, and amplify what works, the life-giving
elements, is a “system” process that works at all levels,
with individual students, one-on-one student-teacher relationships,
classrooms, schools, school districts and communities.”

from Leadership at Every Level: Appreciative Inquiry in Education by Rich Henry

Appreciative Inquiry, for me, seems so logical, simple, true, and essential, that I forget not every knows this.
I am presently involved in a change process at one of the schools I work with. In the past, as the principal tells me, she found something she liked and was passionate about – some new pedagogical twist of the month – and tried to impose it on her teaching staff. Now she realizes that can never work, that what she was actually creating was a climate of insecurity, of ever-changing focus, and that teachers were actually shifting towards complacency with this.

Our goal with the present initiative is nothing less than to shift paradigms of teaching and to create a community of sharing and ongoing learning that will celebrate diversity. What this looks like will emerge as we go because, while we have a general vision of where we want to go, the details will be filled in by community members – teaching and support staff, parents, students, and the board.

Unlike previous change initiatives, the principal is moving slowly and is starting by changing the conversations that are taking place within the school’s walls. We are encouraging people to ask each other questions around their passion for teaching and learning and community. I am already seeing the change as conversations in the staff room are much more collaborative and focus on practice rather than complaints.

Our next step is provide a context for the conversation shifts, and a framework from within which the community can create their best future.

I am excited about seeing where this school goes.

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