How Will I Know What You Need as a Writer and Teacher?

I knew it. I should have blogged right away.  After preaching the value of blogging and insisting participants in my Inspiring Reluctant Writers session capture their reflections, I let the moment, and the memory, go. I knew I would benefit from reflecting on the day, but Busy, that pushy partner I heed, made other plans.

Once time has passed, those snapshots of memory morph, the colour fades and distilled thoughts evaporate.

I do remember the way I felt, as if being pulled in opposite directions.  I recall the highs of hearing teachers’ stories of the impact that live writing was making on their students, how in awakening their writing muse, they’ve found themselves nostalgic for the writing they ‘used to do.’ I also remember the lows of recognizing I haven’t engaged everyone in the group, how I struggle with the pacing of professional learning across a whole day.

Just below the surface, I’ve wrestled with a lingering knot that I’m trying to untie, a lesson I thought I’d learned:

the one who’s doing the talking is the one who’s doing the learning.

In a court of law, I could readily explain why. I want to inspire and provide a variety of texts, model a few strategies, craft a couple writing moves. Writing takes time, space, community, ideas. You can’t just walk in and write cold. I hold true that teachers engaged in writing will help them teach writing.  I try to balance what I’ll call ‘heavyweight’ independent writing (around identity, the story of your name, where you’re from) and ‘lightweight’ collaborative writing (6 Things You Should Know About _______). When we write, we learn the struggles of being a writer and are more likely to be empathetic to the writing we ask our students to create. When we write, the lessons we learn personally feed into how we teach writing and that makes it authentic.

But that doesn’t excuse me from doing most of the talking.

I stand gazing up at two towering goals.

  1. to create the conditions where teachers feel safe and empowered to write themselves.
  2. to support teachers’ instructional practice so they effectively teach students better ways to write.

I grapple with the time writing demands and the time required to imagine its application in a writing workshop. No quick fix. All teachers want things we can implement tomorrow, along with ideas that will percolate over time.

So, I am facing the dilemma of what’s the next step. Where might we go in the coming session that will benefit these teachers as writers and teachers of writing? If I were in a classroom, all the complexity and excitement of the talk, the reading, the writing, would drive the next lesson.

Maybe we will start there. Start with some time to talk, some time to read each others’ writing and student writing to determine our own personal learning needs. We’ll ask ourselves and each other: what am I seeing in this writing that could be improved and how might I get there? A real writer’s roundtable. We can share the responsibility of what we’ll learn and rely on each other for steps to move forward. Together.

 

 

Recognizing a Reluctant Writer in the Mirror

Last Monday brought the launch of a new professional learning series entitled Inspiring Reluctant Writers with a group of 30 grade 6, 7, and 8 educators.  Before the day arrived, I admit I fought a daily battle of self-doubts and what ifs:  what if they don’t trust my message? what if they don’t get what they came for? what if they resist journeying wiwould-you-ratherth me? Without hesitation I share that I read more than write, consume far more than I create.  I asked participants to check in when they entered on a list of ‘Would you Rather’ prompts. Notice the t-chart of read/write in the image. That became the big reveal of the day as almost all of us came to a realization that WE are reluctant writers.  Let that sit for a minute. Here we are attending a professional learning series targeting the needs of our students when bam, it becomes painfully clear that we must address our own reluctance first.

Now the day saw us think about our identity, talk about what we had read or viewed, write both independently and collaboratively from our background, but perhaps the most profound learning came outside the room, later.  In response to YEARS of knowing that a powerful platform for reflection is blogging, I challenged each participant to capture their reflections of the day in a blog. I advocated that we might learn a lot about ourselves across this series by using that platform to track our writing journey. What better way to re-ignite a writing life than to commit our thinking to a page that can be shared publicly; ‘putting it out there,’ as it were. Indeed, I wondered whether one could convince a group of educators who were reluctant writers to try blogging. It was a gamble.

After just a few days I am overwhelmingly convinced and grateful. These teachers have embraced their vulnerability, taken a risk, and published their first blogs! These bloggers share the struggle, reveal the hesitation, but also feel empowered knowing their ideas are valued enough to be shared. We are building our own little community of writers. We now have the opportunity to read and comment on each others’ reflections between sessions, in addition to the writing we share in sessions.  And our audience doesn’t stop there as all these blogs are now public.  Imagine the impact of a group of teachers sharing the struggles and rewards of writing for all of us, including our students.

2016-11-26-10_55_46-inspiring-reluctant-writers-pptx-microsoft-powerpoint

I truly believe that we are our own best teaching tools so that is where we must invest our learning. I’m fortunate to have people come alongside to join me. As we continue this series, I have some wonderings. What if …

  • modelling your writing improves your students’ writing?
  • engaging in writing nurtures empathy for the process and equips you to offer more effective feedback?

I invite you to visit their blogs to support your fellow brave educators and prove to them that the risk and effort are worth it.

 

 

 

 

Read Aloud Ideas: 6 Ways into Chris Hadfield’s ‘The Darkest Dark’

The Darkest Dark, by Chris Hadfield, Illus The Fan Brothers

The Darkest Dark, by Chris Hadfield, Illus The Fan Brothers

When I walked into Chapters last Saturday, I already knew what I was looking for. I had come across an interview in the Toronto Star that morning that reminded me about a new release:  The Darkest Dark, by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by the Fan Brothers. There was no missing the display 5 shelves high, 3 across as I pulled one down to take my first peek. Another reader was beside the display also shuffling through the pages, so I asked her, ‘Is it good?’ She nodded. ‘Do you know Chris Hadfield?’ I asked.  She looked close to grade 6 in age so it didn’t surprise me that she did.  ‘He’s my hero,’ I blurted. ‘Me too,’ she agreed. I don’t know if it’s because of my many years of teaching Grade 6 Space, the way Hadfield made space cool when he tweeted from the ISS, or his musical pursuits and tribute to David Bowie, but Chris Hadfield is one of my heroes.  He epitomizes my idea of Canadian identity and proudly wears his nationality while inspiring generations of fans to reach for the stars.  And let’s face it, is there anything this man cannot do?

Now, he’s written a children’s picture book.

The story is an autobiographical narrative about Chris as a young boy whose passions determine his future…but for the one flaw that may prevent him from realizing his dreams:  he’s afraid of the dark! What are the chances of becoming an astronaut when you’re afraid of the dark?

Ideas to Get You Started

Your students’ grade and interests will determine which ideas you choose, but here are some to get you started. While picture books typically target younger audiences, I have found you can ‘sell’ a picture book to just about any age group.

1. Craft some questions and prompts for before and after reading

  • What are you passionate about? Invite students to generate ideas about their passions. How do you nurture or grow your passions?
  • Share a fear you have as a teacher, either current or from childhood. How have you faced it or overcome it? What are some fears students have? How do they cope?
  • Who is your hero? Who do you look up to? What makes a person heroic?
  • What does the dark look like? Sound like? Feel like? Explore the front cover illustration.  What mood is already being set by the colour and images?
  • “The dark is for dreams – and morning is for making them come true.” Consider posting this quote and having students talk about it over a few days. How does Chris Hadfield’s life resemble that quote? What changed Chris and how did he overcome his fear? How do you know?

2. Explore Big Ideas and Character Traits

bank-of-themes-identity-text-set-journeysUse this book early in the year as part of an exploration of big ideas and character traits in narrative. Like all great tales, it’s not about how the story ends, or learning more about space.  It’s about what the reader takes away and stores in their heart long after the book is finished.  Sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit, this book reveals themes around Hadfield’s earnest pursuit to inspire the next generation of kids to pursue their passions and face their fears…to see fear as an opportunity. How do we learn about, give voice to, and nurture the passions of students in our classroom? Create an anchor chart to track the big ideas your students think that Hadfield is sharing, because as we know, it’s how the reader interacts with the text that determines what students will take away.

character-traits

An anchor chart of character traits that describe Chris will benefit students by equipping them with richer vocabulary to describe characters in future stories. No doubt they will consider Chris imaginative, creative, passionate, brave, etc. What evidence (in words or actions) do we see in the text that makes you say that? To flesh out the kind of person Chris is, you’ll want to share the extra background information found at the back of the book: a note from Chris, some original photos, and some highlights from his life. How does this additional information add to your understanding of the kind of person Chris is?  What evidence did you find that indeed Chris faced his fears and pursued his passions?

3. Connect  to the Curriculum

This book would also support a curriculum connection in Grade 6 as you study space. To activate student background knowledge, you might explore what students already know about Chris Hadfield.  There are documentary style photos of news articles included in the book that lend credibility but also a sense of setting and time.

  • In what ways has space exploration evolved since that first walk on the moon?
  • In what ways has space exploration impacted society?
  • How does Chris Hadfield play a major role in representing Canada’s contribution to space exploration?

How dramatic must that first walk have been for so much of the world to experience it together!  How many of us have gazed at the moon and wondered about someone walking on it?

4. Gather a Text Set

inspirational-people-text-setI tend to gather text sets when I consider how I might use a book in class. If I were investigating the lives of inspirational people who faced their fears and challenges, I would recommend Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls; the double picture book Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan/Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan, by Jeanette Winter; Henri’s Scissors, by Jeanette Winter. I’m sure you could add many of your favourites to help students make connections between texts.

 

stem-related-text-setPerhaps you are exploring STEM related stories to inspire the next generation of innovators.  I would recommend The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; Ada Twist Scientist, by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts; What Do You Do With an Idea? Or What Do You Do With a Problem? By Kobi Yamada.

5. Explore How the Book was Created

Your students may also benefit from studying the text from a creation standpoint. What about the making of this picture book?  Where do story ideas come from? How do illustrators convey the essence of the story? Devote some time to analysing the images across this picture book.  What story do the pictures tell that may not be directly in the text? What other books have the Fan brothers illustrated (hint:  The Night Gardener!)?

What other books has Chris Hadfield written? Around the World in 92 Minutes, by Chris Hadfield, is an awesome yet playful collection of photographs of Earth as seen from space.  Terrific provocations for inquiry!

Around the World in 92 Minutes, page 98.

Around the World in 92 Minutes, page 98.

Here are some links and video clips that could accompany your reading of the picture book:

  • Interview with the Toronto Star:
Toronto Star, Saturday September 10, 2016

Toronto Star, Saturday September 10, 2016

  • CBC article with an awesome video clip sharing the genesis of the book and the Fan Brothers thinking:
CBC September 9, 2016

CBC September 9, 2016

  • Excerpts from the book:
Toronto Star, September 8, 2016

Toronto Star, September 8, 2016

6. Connect with the Author 

Fortunately, we live in a connected world where communication with authors is as easy as texting! Consider following Chris Hadfield across all social media platforms…I do!

Facebook: @AstronautChrisHadfield

Twitter:  @Cmdr_Hadfield

Instagram:  colchrishadfield

You’ll find him posting a myriad of curious and engaging photos, articles and ideas.  The Darkest Dark just may be the book that launches an inquiry, connects with students and sparks a passion.

 

 

Wishing you had a do-over?

In my last post, I pondered the impact teachers have on students forever and how that might infuse our teaching in the last 6 weeks of school this year.  I floated that idea to teachers in a recent professional learning session. This year, I’ve had the privilege of facilitating some learning around a comprehensive literacy program with newer teachers.

Just like in the classroom where I wrestled with pacing from time to time, being responsive in the moment but being pulled to accomplish a goal, I continue to adapt to the fluid nature of gathering folks together to learn. Last session was no different. My intended lunch slide appeared around 2pm (don’t worry, I DID let them eat lunch prior…).  And just like the classroom, you go home, you reflect, you wonder: what could/would I have done differently? How might I have been more effective in my timing? What aspects needed more attention, more exploration? I appreciate my colleague Niall’s use of the term “breathe” to describe the ebb and flow of a session. Inevitably, I reflect on…the do-over.

Sometimes the do-overs we wish for are professional, sometimes personal.

Ironically, not realizing I’d be wishing for a do-over later that day, I invited teachers at our last session to consider a time recently when they wish they’d had a do-over.  After framing the thinking around the powerful impact each teacher has as the ‘grade placeholder’ forever, they spent a little time writing. Providing time to write in response to some thinking and talking helps exercise the writing muscle and helps us play the empathy card when we ask students to write on the spot. Perhaps more importantly, writing allows us to muck around with the details and emotions as we try to capture and tether a complicated human experience to a flat 2D piece of paper.

While professional learning projects have explicit goals, I readily admit I hold additional objectives that guide my thinking and design. I commit to ensuring that every time I’m with educators, we will read and we will write. I don’t mean reading an article, or writing notes, but that we are introduced to new text to inspire teachers and their students to consume, and new ideas to compel teachers and their students to write. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how a whole day focused on, say, assessment can deny us the opportunity to enjoy authentic text for students, and engage in the act of some personal writing. Without intentionally building those pieces in, we avoid developing and expanding our literacy skills. I want teachers in the room to make connections to a text or writing that spurs them to imagine its potential when they land the plane in their classrooms.

BookedTo honour this objective, we explored an excerpt called ‘Do-Over’ from Kwame Alexander’s Booked*. Now this is a novel written in verse, hot off the press, that is taking the young adult world by storm (along with The Crossover).  It’s a coming of age story about a self-proclaimed soccer star whose life is turned upside down when his parents announce a separation and he faces a season-halting injury. And he hates reading! Until a girl and a Grammy award-winning teacher convince him otherwise. Witty, gutsy, raw. You can put this book in any reluctant reader’s hands.  The writer parts the murky waters of daily routine to drill down to moments of self-realization so poignant that at times you feel almost guilty for listening in on the discoveries. You will laugh, you will cry. It’s a terrific example of YA literature that satisfies readers of any age.

For our purposes, I chose the following one-page excerpt:
image

Certainly we easily connect to the moments before sleep, when we ruminate about the day, imagining a way we might have responded differently to a ‘lousy incident.’ We empathize with the replay of the do-over as it’s a universal experience.  Perhaps we even share the spotlight shining on the bystander, convicting us along with the main character. And so will our students. This book begs to be read aloud and talked about.

After some discussion around our connections to the experience, our comprehension of the text, we wondered how the writing could be used as a mentor text, to notice some writer’s craft techniques that we could borrow. We discussed:

  • Layout: it’s written in verse, so one would anticipate short lines, but where the line breaks impacts how you read, and therefore how you comprehend the text.
  • Punctuation: there are a total of 2 commas and a question mark. Indeed, the lack of punctuation impacts the velocity of your read, picking up speed as you approach the bottom of the page. What might students be writing about that would benefit from no punctuation? Does punctuation manipulate emotion? That page is one long question.
  • Punchline: you don’t actually figure out what the character is replaying in his mind until you get to the last three lines: literally, the ‘punch’ line. You are forced to re-read as you may not have seen that end coming.
  • Simile: chooses the vulture, of course, to conjure up the carrion-eating, swarming gang image that displays his inaction but betrays his similarity to the boys who gave his friend the black eye.

Your analysis of this brief excerpt will uncover additional points that resonate with your students. Booked offers nuggets like these across its pages. Discovering and analysing craft techniques that writers use in what we’re reading, and then practicing those in our own writing galvanizes the connection between reading and writing in our students’ literacy development.

Finding authentic text that opens doors to conversation and writing around experiences that mirror our lives makes reading and writing relevant and meaningful to our students.

When we as teachers give ourselves permission to read and write this way, we are more likely to provide those opportunities for our students. Sarah Chiarappa, a teacher in our session, shared this tweet:

 image

How might you use this excerpt to launch a discussion around do-overs in your class? Do we create space for kids to have those do-over days when they make mistakes?

How do books, like this, not only teach you about others’ lives and stories, but also help you learn something about yourself too?

 

*After you purchase Booked, visit http://classroombookshelf.blogspot.ca/2016/05/booked.html for fabulous additional ideas to support your reading of this text.

 

How will your students remember you?

When you see the end of the school year on the horizon, you can’t help but entertain thoughts and reflections on what you’ve learned and taught this year.  Reflection is the focus of conversation as schools plan for next year, educators engage in our last few twitterchats, and we all ruminate before bed. As another chapter comes to a close, I’m reminded that students also look back on the school year and on their teacher…often in years to come.

I’m always amazed at how, as a student, you remember your teachers forever! I bet you can rhyme off almost every teacher you’ve ever had, starting in Kindergarten.The ones you loved, the ones you didn’t. More than likely, you loved your teachers in your early elementary career as they were often your first caregivers after your parents. Like Mrs. Coates…Class pic

(I’m 2nd row, 6th from left. Shy?)

As you scroll through your elementary and secondary grades, perhaps it was a coach who instilled a sense of belonging, or a music teacher who finally celebrated your talent. For example, imagine if Fred Wright hadn’t made such an impact on Bill Gates: Bill Gates TweetThere’s a sense of trust with our teachers that convinces us they have our best interests at heart.  I believe there’s a special kind of place for teachers in our memories.  And being a teacher now makes one realize just how powerful you will be as a memory to your students.  Forever. It’s quite a legacy.  That YOU will hold a special place, you will be THE placeholder for that grade for the rest of their lives. Dawn Fyn: you are the grade 7/8 placeholder; Kristin Methot: you are the grade 3/4 placeholder; Sarah Chiarappa: you are the grade 4 placeholder; Nathan Hall: you are the 7/8 placeholder. Julie Glanville: you are the grade 2 placeholder. Forever.

That’s uplifting. And food for thought as we envision how we’d like to be remembered.

The great thing about teaching is you get another day to make it better. Despite only 6 weeks left to this school year, you still have daily opportunities to invest in how students will remember you. Surely you’ve had those days when you lay in bed and rewind the tape to say to yourself, “If I could do that again,” or, “I could use a do-over.” Maybe it was something you said, the way you said it, or something you didn’t say but should have. Teachers spend an immense amount of time reflecting on their lessons but also their relationships. We are our own worst critics. Luckily, we get a chance to salvage it, to make a difference.

When you consider the time you have left in this school year, in spiteof worrying about the stuff you haven’t covered, focus on the time you still have to make your mark. Guaranteed you’ll be the grade placeholder for the rest of your students’ lives, but what else? What else will they remember about you?

people-will-never-forget-how-you-made-them-feel-webe28093-maya-angelou

Listen for Their Voice

What a completely glorious weekend! From the moment I woke up yesterday, the sun pushed  through the blinds and took hold of my mood. twitter UVChecking the weather app, I tweeted that, indeed, we were now measuring the UV index again! UV index and seeing my first robin count as the harbingers of spring for me.  My husband and I hold a contest (which I ALWAYS win…) to see who spots a robin first in spring. But in February?  Not likely.

I couldn’t wait to get outside. My eldest daughter, Hannah, and I commit to a routine when she returns home for a visit: a long walk. Green space holds a magic spell on our well-being so we crave the outdoors to draw out our burdens, and our conversation, like a mini-retreat.  Yesterday did not disappoint. The ever-present sound of water –  roofs raining, grates draining – provided a soundtrack for our hike.  As we zigzagged to opposite sidewalks to dodge puddles, I grabbed Hannah’s arm.

“Stop. Listen.”

“What?”

“A robin.”

“How do you know it’s a robin if you can’t see it?”

Scouring the treetops we searched for what I knew must be neaRobinsrby. We listened again. Sure enough, a wave of robins had just moved into the neighbourhood and they were jostling for branch positions above us, exhausted from their journey of migration. I was thrilled because:  spring is on the horizon, and I won first-robin-sighting of the season!

There are many ways to identify birds: their plumage, their behaviour, their flight pattern, their location. But when you can’t actually see them, you rely on listening. Sure, robins have a call and song that most people recognize. Other birds require closer inspection and the ability to close out other sounds to isolate just their song. The catbird is a trickster mimicking birds around it confusing me and their predators.

Birding requires listening closely, knowing where to look as a result, and patience. Years of practice tunes your ears to a bird’s song, a bird’s call, their voice.

As I’m in the midst of supporting newer teachers with their writing programs, I’m reminded that these same habits are necessary in our writing workshops. We listen closely to detect what to look for when giving feedback and next steps, and tune in to identify and nurture student voice. When we are reading student writing, we are really listening to their voice, their song. We know the voice we speak with isn’t the one we write with (unless we’re texting). It’s not only what we say, but how we say it that reveals a writer’s voice. We also know that one of the biggest challenges in writing is saying what we mean! Does my message match my thinking…my inner voice? Listening to a student reading their own writing can sometimes bridge the that distance.

Like my birding example, we use a variety of ways to identify students don’t we? By their academic achievement, their behaviour, the friends they hang out with, even their fashion style. How many of us recognize our students’ writing by their voice, their song? If a writer’s voice is what uniquely identifies their writing, how often are they engaged in writing that exercises it? What’s more, how do we teach and empower students to identify and value their own voice, the voice that both reflects and shapes their identity?neil_gaiman_quote_06

Not surprisingly, our voice is most evident, most confident when we write our own stories.  We are more likely to bring confidence because we are experts on ourselves. Penny Kittle calls writers’ notebooks tools for all of us to find our voice. I think we find ourselves in the process. That notebook may be the place I start with newer educators, to play with and model our own writer’s voice. And find our song. For how can we listen for a student’s voice before we’ve learned how to identify our own?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading by Example: Take Action and Model It for Students

example quoteI value the role we teachers play as models for our students both in reading and writing. I believe that we are better equipped to have deep conversations in conferences with students when we read a variety of texts they’re reading. Teachers who share and display what they’re currently reading find books fly off their shelves. I believe that we are more likely to empathize with the challenges student writers face when we write ourselves. Exemplars offer a glimpse of an end product for students to aspire to, however, teachers who share the struggle of the writing process find students are more likely to take risks and more capable of honing their craft when writing.

I believe we can also play a role in modelling curiosity, passion, and how we take action in response to what we have read and learned.

One of the commitments I made public this year in an earlier post was to embrace the real world by blurring the lines between inside and outside school. I’m always looking for authentic texts and tasks to engage students, to bring the world into the classroom. But I also want to bring our students out into the world, to act, to impact our world, to make a difference. This is the ultimate demonstration of insightful understanding: that students are compelled to act in some way to respond to what they have learned.

My thinking around this has been greatly informed by the work of Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels compiled in Comprehension and Collaboration (2015, new ed.) My team has used this book to guide our work with teachers around inquiry, comprehending text, and how students make their thinking visible. The Comprehension Continuum within this text outlines the spectrum of how we ask students to demonstrate their understanding of text, from answering literal questions to actively using knowledge. It serves as a ladder to higher order thinking and is a reflective tool to remind us of where we may spend most of our time.Comp Continuum

In my last post, Teaching the Headlines, I shared a variety of texts and ideas to explore the Syrian Refugee Crisis.  I wondered about the potential of these texts to engage students, make the world relevant, and launch an inquiry. In some ways, perhaps I too was on an inquiry journey. I gathered my resources (picture books, news articles, Humans of New York images and stories, novels) and I talked to others about what I’d learned, both to make sense of it but also to raise awareness. I had (still have) questions about the crisis: What is the difference between a refugee and a migrant? What would Canada do if these refugees were at our border? Why are we not responding as Canadians in a way that respects humanity and matches our value of honouring diversity? How might this ever get resolved? How do we benefit from hearing refugees’ stories? How is the Central American migration of children to the U.S. similar/different to the Syrian refugee crisis? What can I do?

In fact, it was in the midst of this phase of filling my background knowledge with texts, and grappling with big questions, that I came across the Ride for Refuge. This is an annual ride (or walk) where participants can choose a charity of their choice according to particular criteria: the displaced, vulnerable, and exploited.  I chose to support the Canadian Global Response, an organization that has a Syrian Refugee initiative as its focus for this ride. As soon as I saw the video promo, I knew it was for me! The combination of two of my passions, cycling and migration, was perfect.

Just like in the classroom where you can’t always plan for the direction students’ inquiries may take you, so too, I dove into the topic, gathered a variety of resources, asked questions, chose to take action, identified a project that I could commit to, and am still reflecting. I continue to follow the day to day coverage of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. And just like in class, it’s messy, it’s not linear, it’s not over. But I came across a way for me to take action and respond to what I had been learning. I identified my passions and found a way to respond. Perhaps at the beginning of the year, the inquiry is teacher-led and shared by the whole class. Then, as students develop their collaborative skills, invest in their inquiry toolkit, and build their background knowledge, students will also identify their passions and craft an inquiry they can pursue.  As Harvey and Daniels claim, you expand your understanding by taking action.

What happens when kids, and adults, get globally and locally engaged in socially conscious projects? They:

  • nurture empathy and value others
  • exercise global citizenship
  • grapple with complex issues that have no simple answers
  • learn that one step, one person can make a difference
  • raise awareness in their community
  • take responsibility and exhibit leadership skills
  • identify and explore an issue they’re passionate about
  • spend less time navel-gazing and focusing on their problems

Actively using what I had learned by participating in the Ride for Refuge was beneficial emotionally too. It makes you feel good to know you’re taking a step to making a difference. But it also invited many others to become involved by supporting the initiative monetarily. An unintended consequence of taking action as a global citizen is your circle of influence gets to know you better. Your world, and your heart, grows a little bit bigger.