Kelly Camak

The Bedrock is Respect

In Reflections on December 1, 2018 at 1:30 pm

The question we need more evidence of is, how is ___ demonstrating respect for your learners?

Too often, we project ourselves onto our students in the guise of love and care. And, it is important that we love and care for our students. More importantly, we must practice the respect necessary to serve their needs and build their capacity as young people in the world to change the world.

When we proclaim desired outcomes such as “critical thinking,” “collaboration” and “communication” we must build and function in systems that respect student capacity. We must respect their imaginations and desires. We must respect their dreams and needs. We must respect their ideas and advocacy. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into a disabling pattern of care that controls the growth and access of our students and not respect all that they are, and all that they can be. 

The bedrock of high quality learning is respect. It is the design of days, inclusion of curriculum and development of school cultures that expresses to our students: I respect you. I respect your mind, I respect your heart, I respect your interests, I respect your culture, I respect your sense of style, I respect your space, I respect your future. And so therefore, I will be part of this emergent time in your life and try my best to stand by you as your spirit reveals itself and support your process in respecting yourself and developing the conviction to respect others.

This blog post by Sam Chaltain provides more context to these claims. Having access to the community of learners and doers in education can make all the difference in our work. I share this as a reminder to tend to our teacher heart to ensure the life giving energy necessary for maintaining high levels of respect (self and others).



The Need to be Seen

In Reflections on September 23, 2018 at 6:05 pm

We need to see and be seen.

There is a lot being done in the school building. The learning happening can seem possible in an infinite amount of ways through: looks, words, interactions, text messages, activities, song lists, seat assignments, task collaboration, the unsaid, the overheard; the ignored cues.
Lessons that took hours to plan and seconds to fold; or to enliven. Assignments that take a turn and produce work never imagined. Questions can evolve into discussions that shift thinking for a lifetime. The classroom is a space that changes the world.

Did you see it?

The isolated teacher is a faction in a building. The isolated student is a hole in the school culture.

We must keep our eyes open. We must celebrate when we see good. We must affirm when we see the work. We must seek out the effort. We must see the way to a different outcome. We must see the possibility when it seems impossible.

We need to see. When we see and when we know we are seen, we build relationship.

When we build relationship, we work together. When we work together, our experiences improve. When we work together, the weight lightens and the impact expands.

When our needs are met, learning happens.



In Reflections on September 3, 2018 at 11:19 am

One of the most significant challenges in education work is the ability to sustain. The emotional labor in school buildings and educational systems is unforgiving, pulling at all heart strings in different ways every day. The following three pillars can support the labor of educator hearts:

Love as the foundation:  All buildings, all curriculum, all procedures, all gatherings, calls, emails- EVERYTHING needs to be founded in love. Love for students, love for community, love for the profession, the people, the work, the tasks, the events, the story. We must bring all elements of our education from the roots of love. Why? Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres


Nourishment is necessary: We must prioritize nourishing ourselves and each other. Nourishment comes in a variety of forms- what we put in our bodies, our hearts, our minds. What if we design education spaces to nourish the learning community? What if we hosted events with nourishment as the driving experience? What would nourishing professional development look like? Mentorship with nourishment in mind. Flex hours requiring nourishment activities. Feedback protocols that call into mind- how does x nourish the learner/participant?


Relentless Relationship: Educators must be in relationship at all times. In good relationship, in bad relationship, in happy relationship, in sad relationship. Educators must always be in it together, never allowing isolation from our common love and goals. It is in relationship that we are able to learn, grow and heal. Educators are seen, heard and held in relationship with one another. In order to sustain in education work, we cannot be in it alone.


There are implicit and explicit works in place to break down educators. Those factions will fall in the face of well nourished, loving educator communities. The sustenance of educators is imperative for our education goals to be realized. It is important to remember the teacher heart as the strongest muscle in human civilization- for it is from the teacher that we all learn and grow.