Kelly Camak

We are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

In Reflections on January 1, 2017 at 12:30 pm

2017 begins in a tumultuous storm. The swells of lies, disruption and hopelessness bash against hope, truth and peace. It lacks visible leadership. The wind is shifting and we must hold steady and firm in our values to stand in this storm and ensure it passes without us getting lost.

There is no more important time than now to inform and lead our young people inside this storm. They, most of all, need us. They need to see the truth. They need to feel our authentic experiences. They need to learn to trust their selves, and practice trust in others. They need to see the alternative to the mess they are in.

Let us look to the bright spots that can show us opportunity in these dark times. Let us build community with our comrades standing firm in the storm. Let us turn to each other, to our communities and trust our inner voices to hold onto the thread of our core values.

First: our anthem. There is no greater soul in music than our dear sisters Sweet Honey in the Rock- they will chant our march of self-fulfillment. They will call out to our youth, affirming their contributions of being in the world to change the world.

Second: listen. Listen to voice inside you. You must hear the sound of the genuine in you. Listen to the sound of the genuine in others. Celebrate the genuine in community. Build the diverse and authentic voices to be the movement our young people need.

Third: be the change. Do the hard work every day. Take time to build capacity in others. Trust in our young people. Show them the path and invite them to build a new trail, a new way. It is the time for all of us to lead and follow.

We need this New Year to be our guide.

Let us renew our teacher manifesto.

Let us trust that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.


Making it Meaningful, Manageable and Measurable

In Reflections on September 13, 2016 at 8:16 pm

The new school year is in full swing. And so are many of our new ideas, initiatives and goals. As we adjust back into sustaining the energy to teach, we try to connect our “off season” learning to the exhaustive everyday practice.

The trick is to weave the vision into the practice. The magic is putting the ideas into action in a way that inspires and affirms the possibility we entered the school year with.

Here’s the process:

Part 1: Meaning. Now that kids are in the seats, classroom cultures are being formed and school-wide goals are established- can you still find the meaning in the ideas, initiatives and goals you had entering the year? Can you see the connection and benefit? Does the meaning go beyond you- and can you see it clearly in the needs of your students?

Yes? Great. Move onto the next part.

No? Also great. Step back from those ideas and reflect; what is calling your energy?

Part 2: Manageable. Time is always short. Schedules are rushed. You are demanded in multiple places at the same time. Can you find a way to continue the work necessary towards the ideas, initiatives and goals you had entering the year? Is it manageable for you to shift your schedule or add to your schedule to honor the integrity of your necessary work and the new ideas, initiatives and goals?

Yes? Great. Move onto the next part.

No? Still Great. You are aware of what is in your locus of control. You don’t compromise the quality of your work and continued learning. Look for opportunities to adjust or further develop these meaningful ideas, initiatives and goals and make them more manageable this year and beyond.

Part 3: Measurable. The meaning is clear. The time is available. Now- how will you know your ideas, initiatives and goals are benefiting students? What will you measure to prove effectiveness? What evidence will you collect? Can you share how your work towards the ideas, initiatives and goals achieved the intended outcomes?

Yes? Great! Get started and share your improvement journey with us!

No? Great! You have an important task ahead of you to find ways to measure success of what you now to be meaningful and manageable to support student improvement. The experience of measurement finding will undoubtably grow your thinking to even better ideas, initiatives and goals.

This is how learning happens.

Being Responsive to Those Who Suffer Most

In Reflections on November 24, 2015 at 11:59 am

This past August, I participated in an incredible learning experience at the Academy for Contemplative and Ethical Leadership. The focus for our learning was, what would leadership look and feel like if, across all sectors and roles, it were responsive to those who suffer most? This is an incredibly big question. There are so many dimensions of how to define suffering, and then to define the levels of suffering and most significantly, the strategies of response.

And, the question holds a paradox of simplicity. How would our lives, systems and communities change if we cared about improving the life experience for everyone?

The educator and the educational system has great opportunity to hold this paradox for each child and the community it serves.

Child: If the learning system revolved around the relief of suffering, each child would learn that he/she is important. They would learn that each person is important. The child would learn to be in service of others and know that others want to be in service of him/her. The child would hold a truth that everyone is important and we are in community through an ebb and flow of opportunity and suffering.

Culture: If the learning system revolved around the relief of suffering, the culture would revolve around creating opportunity. The culture cares about the needs of the people it serves and seeks the ability to improve conditions. The culture will call upon each person to build up the other.

Content: If the learning system revolved around the relief of suffering, the content students learn would be purposeful for an improved way of life. Knowledge would be shared thoughtfully. Inquiry would drive learning and students would think through core tenants and evolving needs.

What we know as school and school systems would be obsolete.  If we taught and learned in service of improving the lives of others, our experience of school will be open, fluid, welcoming and dynamic.

Our new field of schools would genuinely invite all to enter.