Being Disruptive

For a small bit now, I have been thinking about the idea of instigating disruption and of course, writing a blog about it. It started several weeks ago when eduhero Sanee Bell wrote a powerful blog for LeadUpNow. (LeadUp is a group I am honored to learn from every day.) Shortly after I watched Karen Norton’s periscope of Sanee’s presentation at the What Great Educators Do Differently conference in Chicago, I read Tom Brokaw’s book, A Lucky Life Interrupted. It is about his diagnosis and life with multiple myeloma cancer and resonated with me on many levels but I admit I was shocked when I turned a page and read: “Be disruptive. Challenge convention and change it positively.” Wow. The news anchor I have admired for decades (‘the news’ was my favorite tv show in a second grade biographical assignment) was telling me to stop thinking about being disruptive and just be it. But as life happens for all of us, work at Holm Construction was busy, getting ready to travel across the country with Zack took time to coordinate, and the fall semester of my master’s program demands writing and assignments almost every day.

So the idea of me being disruptive continued to stew and marinate around in my brain. Until I was reading a fashion magazine in a fancy New York City Thursday night. In an interview with Julia Roberts about being happy and taking care of yourself, the movie star says that one of the most important tools to cultivating your own joy is to trust yourself. “I think it’s really important for women to be in touch with their instincts and have enough faith in themselves to follow them.” Geesh. First Sanee, then Tom Brokaw, now Julia Roberts are all telling me to follow my gut and do what I know needs to be done.

The final straw, and what a straw it is, was when as an America Achieves teacher fellow, I was allowed to be in the room when David Coleman, President of the College Board, spoke to the fellowship Friday morning. He said that we should use assessment data to disrupt the dangerous pattern of doing what we’ve always done it simply because it’s what we’ve always done. David Coleman told me (and the other ~ 100 people in the room) that teaching can be subversive if we let our students show their best work and treat time as one of their very most valuable resources.

Time as a valuable resource. For our students. For their teachers. For their families. For all of us. Of course! Even President Obama understands this as he called for thoughtful and well used assessments Saturday morning. This is how Being Disruptive comes back to me. I want to be disruptive for my students’ benefit but right now I’m not lucky enough to have my own students. I can be disruptive for my Girls on the Run to make sure they know they have the limitless potential to be joyful, healthy, and confident. I can be disruptive in my school district to help teachers find resources and experts via social media. And I can be disruptive for myself by doing my best work for Holm Construction now while being open to opportunities and connections in the education world. By making myself available to change and hopeful for the future, I can be ready to go back to work for students and their precious time in whatever situation or circumstance works out.

Be disruptive for education, educators, and students. But also be disruptive for yourself to make sure your time and energy are going to what is most important for your happiness. Just like Julia Roberts told me to do.

2 thoughts on “Being Disruptive

  1. This is inspiring. I was disruptive yesterday when I politely but persistently challenged a group of teachers to invest in the hard work that is documentation rather than testing to pull down easy numbers and whip report cards together efficiently. I was afraid to open this conversation, but I did it, and in the end, there were a few a tears but no one was angry with me. No one dismissed me either. Posts like this make me feel less alone in what can be hard, hard work. Thanks for this.


    1. Angela, Thank you so much for reading my blog. I am proud of you for speaking up for what you know is right for your kiddos! Little by little, disruption by polite disruption, we can change education for the better. 🙂


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