I was on Skype chatting with Darren and Terry Freedman about ways to improve the K12 Online Conference next year. Darren in sincereness told Terry he was a mensch. And you know...I do so agree. But I had never heard this word before.
n. Informa. pl. mensch·es or mensch·en (mnshn)
- A person having admirable characteristics, such as fortitude and firmness of purpose: “He radiates the kind of fundamental decency that has a name in Yiddish; he's a mensch” (James Atlas).
- mensch. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved November 09, 2006, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mensch
I always taught my students that before a word can truly be yours, before you own it, you have to use it three times. Being one who tries to practice what she preaches I found my first opportunity. I was reading a post on Graham Wegner's site and realized the gentleman he was referring to in his post was also a mensch. So I went and told the guy as much. Two more to go and I own that word for sure. I learned by listening.
I have been thinking... and thinking about my upcoming keynote. To be honest, I am a little nervous about this one. But I think I am more nervous about doing what my friend calls "outing myself." Let me explain.
I have spoken many times about homelessness- at district PTA events, local and state conferences, and shelters. My favorite events are when I go talk with homeless moms who are trying to climb out of poverty's grasp. But no one in my homeless circle of friends ever knew about my technology side. I never mentioned it. I always focused on strategies for reaching kids who are experiencing extreme poverty, with technology just being one of many techniques to use. And likewise, I had never really told my story to my Teacher Leader Network buddies or my network of edublogger friends.
I don't remember being intentional about not mixing the two worlds -- but now that I have decided to do so, I am feeling cautious and even a little afraid and I am not sure why.
Then I came across this...Teaching in a Culture of..."They'll Never Let Us" and "We Cannot Do" by a fellow TLNer, Brenda Dyck.
In this article, Brenda recounts an article of my own, Traveling the Techno Trail: Training Teachers to Use Technology. As I read her take on my passion for using digital literacy as a means of social empowerment for kids who need it the most, I subconsciously heard the voice of another friend from the blogosphere say to me, "Screw your fear. It's what makes you you. If you see a connection, it could be a powerful story and that's what this is all about...story."
On Nov. 13, I will give the keynote at NAEHCY and tell my story, but this time I will blog about it. Here is my tell all bio for that event-- it definitely "outs me." And once again, I learned, this time through trust.
Learning to learn lesson this week--hush, watch, trust and I will still learn. Sometimes the most powerful learning happens when it isn't self-directed, planned for, or mandated. It happens unexpectedly, as a series of inner-woven events strung together to make a profound life changing statement. I just have to be alert and paying attention so it doesn't pass me by.