The idea for Jrney was born on a beach in El Porvenir, Honduras as a horse nudged my leg while I struggled to come up with a plan for what I wanted to do with my life. Yes, a horse. He wanted me to move or feed him or something, but I took it as a sign that I needed to get my life moving in a new direction. Talk about divine intervention! I began thinking about a book I read a couple years before called Good To Great, by Jim Collins, where he explains the Hedgehog Concept visualized as a graphic organizer of three overlapping circles: "simplifying a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything" (p. 91). While this book focuses on how great companies are run, I found it applicable to any individual hoping to lead a great life, and I thought this might be a good place to start in my own thinking. I began by drawing my own diagram including the necessary pieces of "what are you passionate about?", "what can you be the best in the world at?" and "what drives your economic engine?" (p. 118). These three empty overlapping circles stared back at me, goading me to try to figure out what on earth my next step should be and how to do something meaningful, interesting, and financially sound.
I had taken almost three years off from classroom teaching, and I was running out of time and money, but it was that moment which led me down a new path. And global education became my focus.
I believe strongly in the power of excellent teachers and that every child deserves not just an education but a quality education filled with opportunities for exploration, discovery, and action. I’m encouraged to see that during the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference this week, over 100 nations pledged US$2.3 billion from donor countries and US$110 billion from developing nations for 2018 to 2020 toward education for children in developing nations. I look forward to following the story and the money with the hope that it will go toward quality and not purely access or innovation for the sake of “something shiny and new.”
How does Jrney fit into that? I wanted a space where I could experiment, share, and ultimately reimagine what education is and should be all over the world. And I wanted others to join me and learn from each other! Financing conferences like the one I just mentioned happen at such a high level, and while it is important, teachers need a space to not only share strategies, but stories as well. Jrney has become that space and so much more.
Throughout this blog, you will find my writing in between stories of educators doing truly amazing things and rethinking how they provide learning experiences each day for their students. In the spirit of sharing, and for you to get to know me a bit better, during the month of February, I’m going to share parts of my Jrney with you. I’ve lived a bit of an unconventional adult life, but I am a firm believer that each step along the way has brought me to exactly where I need to be right now.
So I’ll begin with a story about taking risks and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, share how travel has shaped me into the teacher and person I am, and how powerful student action can be. I’ll also challenge the role of the teacher and share with you one of my most challenging and transformative moments. I encourage you to follow along this month and add your own thoughts and reflections because the only way forward is together. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s a hint for what’s coming in March!
While I'm still actively developing my own Hedgehog Concept, I now look forward to the next nudge that may come my way.
Enjoy the Jrney!
For more information on the Hedgehog Concept and the other wisdom presented in Good to Great, check out this website.