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I’m on a mission to recruit teachers who will join Team 21C in our mission to bring flexible learning opportunities to learners in Santa Ana Unified. One of my particular passions and some of the moments I feel most fully alive, engaged and challenged as a professional are one-on-one conversations in which two people really explore their thinking around who we are as educators and the challenges we have before us. It’s not always easy. It can be scary to look who we are in the eye and to accept us and love us for who we are. It’s always necessary in order to do our best work. To be my happiest and most productive self, I have been intentionally been scheduling one-on-one conversations with teachers to dialogue about what they are passionate about and where they’d like to see themselves in education in the future. What do they want to learn? How do they want to grow?
I met Brad at C4, a local deli on Broadway and I ordered the hummus, which fits my preference for a vegan diet.
I asked Brad right away if I could be myself and when he said yes, I brought out my camera and asked if I could take a quick portrait of him. What you may not understand about me, and honestly what I don’t understand about myself is that I am compelled by light. Sunlight. Natural light. Reflected light. Afternoon light. Sometimes, I can’t not take a picture because the light is just right, has an otherworldly quality to it. It’s how I see the world – in addition to being an educator, I see beauty beyond the surface. I practice capturing that beauty in art, through photography. Photo = light. Graphy = writing. Photography allows me write the light I see in the world – metaphorically and literally.
Back to Brad. I think this opening to our conversation was fortuitous because Brad relaxed into a compelling story of how he loves teaching and how he has other passions, too. I had prompted him with the question, “Too often we focus on what teachers can do for us and how they can help us with our projects, but it’s important to ask ‘what do you want and how can I help you?'” Brad shared how he has a passion for gaming, and how he’s studied up (my word, not his) on Twitch.tv where gamers livestream their gameplay. My ears perked up. Really? Brad described the online gaming communities and culture, the Creatives section of Twitch where people can livestream other activities besides gaming, like sculpting, singing, or soldering, and how such a vibrant and safe world of online learning is happening right under our noses. And on our students’ laptops and phones. I was like, “Yes! We need to know more about this! If we don’t get into these spaces and start learning, we will lose the capacity to engage our students authentically and deeply because this, and spaces like this, are points of real connection for many of them them to authentic learning.”
I asked Brad if he would be interested in starting a livestream gaming channel and using the experience and the content he generates to fuel development of our hybrid courses. He said yes. And that, my friends, is why I refer to him as Brad the Valiant. He is willing to go on a learning journey, fueled by his passions and tied to his desire to see students experience the best learning they can.