In the moments and days after speaking at ISTE, I had many great conversations with teachers of color that I encountered. We chatted about everything from where we were from to job responsibilities and session topics if we were speaking. As the conversation steered to the Ignite speech…as if that were different than an actual session…the response was 98% of the time…”I could not have done that!”
To be fair, I was also asked how I was able to do that and if I had to submit a proposal. We all did and that is where being connected comes into play. As ISTE arrives, you follow the tweets…click the link and submit an idea. To be really helpful, ISTE even sends an email which leads to the exact same place.
The Boundaries That We Place in Our Way
My parents raised me to so see no boundaries even when they were there. To be clear, I’m no dummy when it comes to the visible constraints of color in edtech but I choose to believe in my own gifts and passions over those walls. I also choose to believe that the word “no” doesn’t exist unless I allow it so if there is a door in my way, I’ll knock that sucker down before allowing it to keep me from my goals.
In the case of speaking at events, that door can be as simple as an application or a proposal and to not apply is not an option. As a matter of fact, I submitted a very sub-par proposal to present a session on rethinking PD at ISTE which was denied (as it should’ve been). Applying for the Ignite was always on my list of things to do and not just because I am a woman of color but because I am a person with very specific goals and I knew that Braeden’s story was one that needed to be shared in the way that it was.
With that said, I fully understood the magnitude of speaking as I encountered more teachers like me who never saw doing so as an option. I lost count of the number of times that people of color told me that they now felt that they could do it because they saw me there and were empowered. (#eduwin)
I am deeply honored by that because I know what that feeling is like. I also understand what moving beyond that feeling is like because regardless of race or gender, when I see someone doing something that I KNOW that I am capable of…I always feel that I can do the same and then I begin the steps of getting there.
I’m not going to say that boundaries do not exist because they do. Anytime an “acceptance committee” has an unwritten rule of “are they known”, that is almost certainly exclusive because the “known” are too often NOT “us”. While we cannot control that part, we can control what and how we propose to be heard. We can push the boundaries anyway because what we have is of value and must be a part of the conversation.
If leading/speaking is something that you want to do, you make it happen by making your case so great that it is undeniable. Choose a platform that you are passionate about because THAT is what separates a subpar discussion from an amazing one.
When that door opens, kill it so well that it will NEVER be closed again. When it’s open, make sure that you share the process and leave it open for the next person to walk through. That is how real change happens.
See no limits or boundaries on your capabilities. Truthfully…there are none. Everyone has to start somewhere.
It almost always starts with a proposal…
Why not you?