A Teacher’s Complaint about My Professional Development Training

Recently, there have been several "racially charged controversies" in a school district, and some district leaders believed that their teachers needed to become more interculturally competent. So they hired me to lead the training. Early in my session, a teacher complained, "I don't know why we need this." Her district is 75% white and made up of middle-class and affluent families. Hearing her dismiss her need for this kind of training only confirmed for me (and others in the room) that attitudes like hers might be causing- or at least exacerbating- the racial tensions her school district.

A lot of teachers think that they can continue doing things the way they have always done them, and still be effective.  What they fail to (don't want to?) realize is that our country is becoming more diverse culturally, religiously, socioeconomically, etc, and if teachers who live in historically homogenous districts (which are experiencing a significant influx of diverse families) do not equip themselves to understand and navigate these changes with wisdom, they will eventually become more and more distant from their students, and will become increasingly ineffective as teachers. Their intercultural incompetence will eventually lead to more misunderstanding, conflict and, eventually, chaos in the classroom. So throughout our half-day session, I helped her and her colleagues see how culturally conditioned and linguistically particular they really are; and, as a result of such conditioning, they are neither "normal" nor "the norm" by which every other student should be evaluated.

At the end of my time with them, several veteran educators and counselors came up to me and said that mine was the absolute best professional development day they have ever had in their professional lives. I think the woman who complained quietly snuck out the back door. Either way, her attitude only reaffirmed my commitment to helping teachers become better students of their students.

I show busy teachers how to do that in my newest book, Even on Your Worst Day You Can Be a Student's Best Hope.  You can get it directly from ASCD, the number one publisher for education leaders and curriculum development in the world.  

The Power of One Speaking Tour 2017

Here I go! Please pray for me. I'm heading back out for a 41-presentation, 31-city, 21-state, The Power of One Tour.  You can learn more about it HERE.

 

Flying 7 Continents Solo

I just finished reading Flying 7 Continents Solo, by Harry R. Anderson. He is only the fifth pilot to fly solo in a single-engine aircraft to all seven continents.  Because it’s my dream to fly my family around the world, I read the book to get some perspective and insight from someone who has flown himself around the world in small airplane.

This was the first part of his route (The second (and third) part of his journey included flights from Washington State to Antarctica and back. But because I don’t plan on flying to Antarctica any time soon, I have excluded that part of his journey from this post):


(Harry R. Anderson’s Itinerary)

For the above trip, Harry flew his small airplane, a Lancair Columbia (averages 165 knots), nearly 25,000 miles in 164 days (although he hung out in the U.K. for 81 days to hang out with old friends). In all, he said such a trip would require about $50,000 and 3 months to complete.

Harry has a PhD in engineering and is an entrepreneur. So I appreciated his perspective on many levels.  His scientific orientation undoubtedly helped him to describe his journey with great detail. The book contains an appendix with several spreadsheets, aviation terms, and enumerated procedures on how to get permission to fly into, out of, or over particular countries.

English is the standard language for aviation communication around the world. So Harry didn't have too many troubles communicating with air traffic controllers.  There were a few instances in India and South America where local controllers spoke little to no English, but he was able to understand just enough to complete his flights. 

Also, while Harry seemed to have a great time flying himself around the world, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was lonely during the trip. He is not married and I don’t think he mentioned having any children.  For my trip, I don’t want to do it alone. I want to take my family with me.  As a family, we have already visited 48 states, backpacked through Western Europe, Visited Japan, China, and Australia. Because that is our rhythm, I couldn’t see myself trying to take a trip around the world without my family.

One other thing about Harry’s trip that is different from the one I am dreaming about is that he pretty much avoids the whole continent of Africa. Being of African descent, I cannot see myself flying us around the world without visiting several countries in Africa. I know it will add significantly to length and cost of our journey, but for us, Africa is an inescapable must for our itinerary. 

To make such a trip, we would definitely need a bigger, faster, stronger airplane.  Right now, we can fly about 750 miles per tank, but I would want to be able to fly at least 1000 nautical miles per tank. I would also need a plane that can carry more weight. Right now, fully fueled, we can carry a little over 900 pounds (people and luggage).  For our flight, however, I would like a plane that can hold more than 1,000 pounds. Ideally, it will have a payload of more than 1,300 pounds.  Given those requirements, I would probably need to invest in a Beechcraft Queen Air with an Excalibur Conversion.  Another consideration involves the speed and service ceiling of the plane.  During his trip, Harry encountered some icing on his wings, often at about 11,000 feet. Without de-icing equipment, he couldn’t fly in or above the icing layers, so he had to descend and fly at low altitudes (which, at times, made me uncomfortable).  So, a pressurized aircraft that can do what the Queen Air can do, but also has the ability to fly into known icing (FIKI) at higher altitudes would be ideal for our trip around the world. Right now, the Cessna 414A is the plane that keeps standing out to me. 

In any case, I appreciated the journey that Harry Anderson shares. I’m sure I’ll return to his book again and again when it comes time to start requesting visas and permissions to enter and exit countries.

On What Do You Base Your Most Basic Beliefs About Yourself and Others?

What is the basis of your self-image? What is the basis of your identity?

To change the quality of your life, whatever that means for you, you must first identify those beliefs in your head that are hurting you. Get specific!  Your beliefs are wings or weights: which ones are lifting you up, and which ones are weighing you down, specifically? After you have named them, and become aware of just how much they have caused, are causing, or will cause you to lose, you must work intentionally to re-frame or replace them with beliefs that can empower you to grow and flourish as a human being.

Furthermore, if you allow the ordained minister in me to take it a step further. As a Christian, I personally believe that the Bible has one of the best, most powerful teachings about who we are as human beings. It says that people are made in the "imago Dei"- in the image or likeness of God. That means, at the very least, that all people- including you- are similar to (but not the same as) God in the following ways:

  • You have a spiritual nature (you are not just a material body)
  • Were made to have loving with relationships with others (rather than living alone in isolation)
  • You have the ability to think (rather than just be a programmed robot)
  • You have the power to create (rather than just consume)
  • You have the capacity to rule (and not just be a passive recipient of all life throws at you)
  • You have the freedom to live a pure life and make ethical choices (and not be helplessly controlled by your drives like animals)
  • You have the ability to live forever (and not just end up as a pile of ashes or under six feet of dirt)

Also, BECAUSE humans are made in the image of God, all people- even those with whom we disagree- deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and love. 

That's what MY self-image is based on. That's also what I see when I look at other people. No matter who I am dealing with, I see beauty, potential, value, and worth. Even if they do not subscribe to my values, I still see all people as image-bearers. Having said that, in my view, we humans are all flawed, and cracked, and imperfect in so many ways, but beneath those imperfections, I still see glimpses of God's image in peoples' lives (and give myself permission to be imperfect too).  That view of myself and others helps me treat even the most addicted drug addict with respect. Beneath their addiction, they are people, just like me, made in the image of God.

That's the cognitive content I have chosen to replace my negative self-images with. It's also the content I have in my head about others.

What about you? On what do you base your most basic beliefs about yourself and others? How is that cognitive content helping or hurting your own growth as a person? How is it helping or hurting your relationships with others? That's just something to think about.

Have a great day!

-Manny