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#CECVAN – Reflections…


I started this writing/sharing journey a year ago, which coincided with our annual CISVA Educator’s Conference.  I was inspired by what I had learned and excited to continue making connections…

A year later I still feel like I am at the beginning, and it is still such an exciting place to be!  Every day is an opportunity to put it all together or to try something new.  More than ever, I am grateful for the companions on the journey – you are enriching my life in so many ways: by reading, by sharing, by asking great questions and by pushing me to be better!

The CEC is usually inspiring, even if just for the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones.  This year, though, there were two speakers (one on each day) who really cemented some ideas I have been working on myself.  Here are my highlights – let me know if they resonate with you too!


Dean Shareski

How do we have more moments of (real) engagement?

What is the definition of engagement? Are you fascinated by it?  This is what it should feel like more often.

How do we get real engagement in the classroom as a teacher?

1.  Be interesting.  Use your “unfair” advantage.

2.  Wonder.  What fascinates you?  Read the book The Wondering Brain.  (For me this connected to ideas I have been hearing repeatedly over the last year – “cognitive disinhibition”, “cognitive flexibility” – more on this from me soon…)  Watch this video about the responsibility to awe.

3.  Play.  Play!  Here is a fantastic (and often mis-attributed quote from Neville Scarfe: “All play is associated with intense thought activity and rapid intellectual growth.  The highest form of research is essentially play. Einstein is quoted as saying, “The desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of a vague play with basic ideas. This combinatory or associative play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.”

4.  Just do it.  (Jump in with purpose and intent.  Don’t be afraid to try and fail!)  “Failure is free, high-quality research, offering direct evidence of what works and what doesn’t.  Cheap failure, valuable as it is on its own, is also a key part of a more complex advantage; the exploration of multiple possibilities.”  Clay Shirley

(Sometimes joy doesn’t have to have a purpose.  Joy is a purpose.)

5.  Gratitude!  Thoughtfully and intentionally multiply gratitude.  What is a tiny thing to you could be a big deal to someone else.  Say thank you!

Look ahead, live in the moment.  Adults need to have fun so children want to grow up.


Dr. Robert Wicks

There are life-altering things and life-changing things and then there are also the little things.  Remember which are which when putting things into perspective.  It is easier to put on slippers than it is to carpet the world.  When we have respect we are opening a circle of grace.  When people are with you, how do they feel?  What do they experience?

(This reminded me of one of my favourite quotes from Mother Teresa: “Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”)

Be honest.  See what you’re believing.  Sometimes we believe stupid things.  Don’t engage with destructive people.  Don’t let others take your joy.  It’s not the amount of darkness in the world – it’s how you stand in the darkness.  In the darkness, we truly deepen.

“Courage comes and goes.  Hold on for the next supply.” (Thomas Merton)

Take two minutes every day to pray and to wrap yourself in gratitude.  We need this to keep perspective.  It will come with accepting, understanding, embracing, living.  Prayer is the portal to perspective.  What good things are you doing in your life?  What quiet walks to you take each day?  What happens in your silence?  What we model is essential.

Friendship is essential.  Each of us needs to have people in our lives who fill these roles:

1.  the prophet – who is guiding us?

2.  the cheerleader – who is celebrating us as we grow, so that in the process we can see our own goodness?

3.  the teaser – who keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously?

4.  the inspiration – who calls us to be all we can be, without embarrassing us for being who we are?

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”  (Robert Frost)

We must keep a spirit of “unlearning” to teach us about hope.  There are two kinds of suffering.  One is avoidable – avoid it.  The other we must face, but we must do so with hope.  Hope is in community.  You can’t lose hope as long as you are making friends.

Take responsibility.  If you give away the blame, you give away the power to change.  Read scripture like your identity is on the line, so that when you ask what it is saying it asks back ‘who’s asking?’  You can do nothing for others if you are not fully aware that you are deeply loved.  If you sit in darkness in quiet contemplation with humility, add knowledge and you will get wisdom…


Inspired?  Me too.  If you read my ignite story last week you know these themes have been on my mind a lot lately.  Stay tuned – I am wrapping myself in joy and gratitude, inspired by new ideas, and planning the next adventure…

Sky Photographs – Late Winter Evening, Vancouver



One thought on “#CECVAN – Reflections…

  1. So many great parts to this piece……In this moment, my favorites are: Joy IS the purpose. And: You can’t lose hope as long as you are making friends! Thanks for being such a great friend to so many! I am blessed to know you, truly!


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