Making a dream into reality begins with what you have, not with what
you are waiting on.
~T. F. Hodge
A couple of weeks ago, I spent time with a grade 8 class of 50 students, co-taught by 2 teachers. The teachers have adjoining classrooms, but when all 50 students come together, a larger open space is used. This wall-less space is directly off the school’s entrance way, what you might call a multi. What I noticed first about this space were the limitations and shortcomings: the ambient noise, the uncomfortable tables, the distracting hallway traffic, and the lack of technology.
Later, as we debriefed with the 2 teachers, they willingly acknowledged the limitations of their physical space and some of the challenges they face with a class of 50. But here is the thing: they didn’t stop to perseverate and get all tangled up in what was lacking. Instead, like a smooth, flat rock, skipping over top of the water, they kept right on going, past what was lacking, and onto what was possible.
The teachers described the numerous advantages of the diversity and size of the group. They talked passionately about their partnership and how co-planning had amplified their professional growth. They shared examples of student work, project outlines, and non-linear standards. Listening to them, my perceived limitations of the space seemed insignificant compared to what they had created.
They had believed in the possible. They had started from abundance.
After our visit, I spent time reflecting on the experience, wondering if I would have believed in the possibilities of the situation. When I imagined myself stepping into something similar, I felt an overwhelming fear of the unknown. There were so many things that could go wrong, so many pieces missing, and so much uncertainty. I realized that I would have camouflaged my doubts and fears by pointing out the deficiencies of the situation. If I pointed out what was lacking, maybe no one would notice what I was lacking. Instead, I would set the ransom high and demand that EVERYTHING be certain before I stepped forward. Certain I had the right reseources, furniture, classroom, etc. I realized that when faced with uncertainty, it wasn’t easy to feel hopeful and imagine the possible. It was scary to start from abundance.
In the weeks to come, I looked closely for more examples of abundance. I heard it when teachers were collaborating and saying: yes, let’s try that! I saw it when students had the time and space to fully share their ideas and thoughts. I felt it when the pace of the class was the same as that of authentic relationships. It didn’t look like I thought it might. It looked messy, and noisy, unplanned, and a bit disorganized. It looked like diving in to the deep end and having fun. It felt like letting go of fear, embracing hope, and stepping into the abundance of the possible.
Scarcity is the “never enough” problem. The word scarce is from the Old Norman French scars, meaning “restricted in quantity” (c. 1300). Scarcity thrives in a culture where everyone is hyper-aware of lack. Everything from safety and love to money and resources feels restricted and lacking. We spend inordinate amounts of time calculating how much we have, want, and don’t have, and how much everyone else has, needs, and wants. ~Brene Brown