The beginning of a new school year brings so much excitement. After all of these years, I still get butterflies before the first day. I look forward to seeing my fellow staff members, meeting new students, and creating a community together. During this time, I also think about setting goals. This year I’m finding it really hard to determine what my goals should be. To be honest, it usually consists of something unattainable (and boring), such as staying incredibly organized and eating healthy every day. These goals cause a lot of stress and worry…. And I think I’ve had those same two goals every year I’ve been teaching so far.
This year I’ve decided to try something different. Jamila Dugan talks about radical dreaming in her article Radical Dreaming for Education Now (https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/radical-dreaming-for-education-now). Radical dreaming isn’t a new concept; it’s been explored by many Black scholars over time. In this article, she states:
The idea of dreaming—and in many Black scholars’ views, radical dreaming—isn’t a fluffy notion. Being rooted in our dreams has served the most innovative leaders of yesterday and today. If we look at some of the people who have inspired generations and catapulted us forward, they have often been dreamers—people who had a vision for a world that did not yet exist.
So what does this mean as the educator in the classroom? I wanted to think about my dreams for school – not just my personal goals. What could school be for students? What is my radical dream for my children at home and the students in school with me?
I dream that they will have the support they need to make their dreams and goals come true. I dream that they have agency over themselves; that they feel safe and loved when they come to school. I dream of a space of respectful discourse and learning. I dream of a classroom that helps them to discover all the possibilities of who they are – and who they can be.
It’s not just my dreams that are important. The classroom is a shared space and we will need to create it together. The first step will be to ask students what they think the purpose of school should be and what they want to learn about while they spend their time here. I’ll need to listen to their voices and honour their truths if I want them to feel safe enough to advocate for themselves and for others.
Instead of having a list of goals for this year, I will choose to dream of possibilities. As Dugan reminds us, “Dreaming isn’t for the sake of dreaming. It spurs inspiration and new ideas as we help students build the skills necessary to turn hopes into realities.” There’s enough space in school for all of us to dream of the world that we want to live in.
It’s probably going to be slow. It’s probably going to be a lot of learning and growing together. It’s probably going to take a lot of trust in one another to build a place where our dreams can come true. But I think it’s going to be worth it.
Read Jamila Dugan’s article Radical Dreaming for Education Now on ASCD (https://www.ascd.org/el/articles/radical-dreaming-for-education-now)