Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day One Hundred and Seventy Seven: Testings

I'm not walking this morning but driving to McLean for a scoring date with all the grade ten English Language Arts teachers in the division. We mark student responses to reading activities, looking for their ability to identify main and supporting ideas, articulate inferences, build connections, and so on. I'm sitting beside Sandra, a former colleague, and we are tag-teaming our scores. We chat about our families and work load.

I'm home a bit early because we worked hard and had a short lunch. I play a song on the guitar. I lay down. I get up. I read. I put food on the table for Arwen and Katelyn when they come home. I go back upstairs. I lay down again.

At six-thirty I walk to the Governance Centre, snapping pictures of dandelions, sunshine clouds, and Michael driving home in his truck. He stops and we chat. The sun is still high in the sky. Can't believe it's almost seven.

I'm attending a community meeting on a Task Force focused in closing the gap in First Nations Education and Employment. Roberta, my friend and Arwen's teacher, meets me in the parking lot. We sign in and see that Cathy and Gwen are also there from the High School. We sit in the plush board room chairs in the grand circle. The Task Force facilitators, Gary Merasty, Rita Bouvier, and Don Hoium, introduce themselves briefly and then Gary Merasty asks everyone to briefly introduce themselves. It's a diverse group who has gathered: students; educators; employers and employee hopefuls; development personnel; justice worker. Mr. Merasty then explains their mandate, provides some background information, and then opens the floor for discussion.

People speak passionately, sharing their perspectives. The panel listens and adds reflective comments and clarifies or provides information. If I had a few hours and loads of energy, I'd try to write down all the key points; I was taking notes feverishly, but as I walk home in the near dark, the partial moon beautiful in a deep blue sky, I'm trying to mellow out, feeling a little over exposed and vulnerable for getting on my high horse and saying that the problem with the gap is not a First Nations problem, but a Newcomer problem. It's the newcomers who hold the power who need the education on this subject. I said a lot of other things, about strength-based identity building and self-fulfilling prophecies, and I heard a lot of things, like maybe we should re-invent the credit system and the have a variety of options for graduation requirements, depending on what students want to do, and I heard Cathy, Gwen, and Roberta speak about the successes they see every day, but the fear of over-testing and standardized testing which will just point out the gap that we know is there and do nothing to address it.

There were two young women, students at parkland college, sitting behind us, beautiful in their long black hair, and I'll never forget their words of encouragement. The young woman who is more vocal, had a wide smile, and she looked right at us, the four teachers, and told us that we were making a difference every day with our students, and she told her own story of a teacher who made her feel special. She asked us for our thoughts and I felt sun-kissed in her smile.

It's funny that I'm walking home feelings foolish for my passion rather than dwelling on the words these young women so freely gave us, congratulating us on our care for young people.

Rather than go to bed early, as I've planned, I start watching a BBC mini-series Daniel Deronda on netflics and I'm carried away into another time and another place where the powerful are humbled and poignant sacrifices exist just as they do now. I go to bed just after one, but my heart is filled with hope that those who have difficult lives have the most potential for beauty and inspiration.

Day One Hundred Seventy Seven: May 30th Pictures