The catharsis of the keynote

I just returned from a North Central Zone Conference in Prince George. I went in to Prince last night in order to have dinner with some colleagues (and, let’s be honest, get some time away from my other role as mom). We had a great laugh, and I had to shake my head as we returned time and again to students, curriculum, educational philosophy and back to students. Kudos to the staff and the menu at Nancy Os, incidentally.

I broke my 365 day blog promise last night when I got in to the hotel at 11pm and realized there was no wi-fi. I figured I had sacrificed enough for public education this week. There was no way I was going to sit at the desk for a half an hour. I crashed and watched George Stroumboulopoulos. I only feel a little guilty.

I am really having to cast around for what to write about tonight. I have a lot of ideas circulating but I am looking for a topic that is short and to the point. I am exhausted. The last week or so has been difficult and emotionally draining.

At the conference, Tom Hierck gave a great keynote address. His talk was short on dry research and long on storytelling, communication, connection. I quickly closed my laptop when I realized I wasn’t going to be taking notes on the latest books, trends, ideas.

This was a different kind of talk. I cried. No really, I did, and that was before he got to the really tough stories. He was talking about changing practice, how his own practice had changed, but also the importance of not beating ourselves up. He mentioned something about how teachers get beaten up enough and that was it for me. This last week has been hard in that regard.

I suppose that is the art of the keynote – some easy laughter, some research, some getting to know the speaker so we can relate to them, some serious this is why we are all here, and then when you are really wide open emotionally, wham!

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy entering this transaction with a speaker. Okay, it sounds kind of wrong when I say it like that, but seriously, the process is uplifting, cathartic, and somehow fortifying. It is also exhausting.

I suppose it is the same as any kind of storytelling. We need, I need, to process emotions and consider the big picture. That is the beauty of a good storyteller, whether it is a movie, a piece of music, a documentary, a radio show, a public speech.

We get permission to experience the full range of our emotions. We get to see into another person’s heartfelt experiences and make a connection with another human being. Most importantly, we reconnect and revisit our own stories by listening to theirs. We come back to ourselves.

I appreciated Tom’s willingness to share his own story.  We often talk about how relationships are everything, but we get to real relationships through story. Story is everything.

2 thoughts on “The catharsis of the keynote

  1. Wow Kelley! Thanks so much for sharing this and providing some feedback that I will cherish. As I mentioned today the hardest part of these short connections I get to make is that I don’t get enough time after to debrief with folks and get a sense of whether or not my “important stuff” is shared by colleagues. Thanks for letting me know in such an impacting way. Keep making a difference!

    • Thanks, Tom. I appreciate you stopping by. I look forward to reading your blog and having some more conversations about behaviour, assessment and our shared passions!

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