Before I attended the Our Voice Academy, I had a single story of what it was. It was a group of educators of colour coming together to tell their stories by developing a keynote.
As powerfully described in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk, The Danger of a Single Story, I had only one perception of what Our Voice Academy was from seeing tweets (#OVAcademy) and reading blog posts but it cannot be described in words. Like trying to draw a three-dimensional object on a piece of blank white paper, you may capture pieces of it, but not everything. To really capture what is Our Voice Academy, you need to feel the emotion in the room, you need to see eye-to-eye and connect with another person, you need to hear the music and the stories, you need to speak your truth, and you need to smell all of us breaking bread together and building community – This is the perfect experience.
The coaches (Jennie Magiera, Dee Lanier Monica I. Martinez and Sarah Thomas) all provided so much of themselves to help us grow and I am thankful and humbled to have spent time with them and learned from them. I learned the importance of being intentional with your voice and body. When telling a story, it is so much more than the words you are saying, it is how you say it and how motion can enhance it. I learned that the feelings of nervousness can be channeled as excitement. I learned the true sense of the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, where images and design can tell their own stories. Finally, I learned that we can improve our storytelling skills until they become natural or an unconscious competence.
Our Voice Academy helped me find my voice and my confidence is growing and I see my stories as being valuable. I have a family that is here to celebrate the successes, provide support during the challenges, and to be critically kind in feedback. Many educators, like you, may feel that your stories are ordinary or not impactful, but those stories that you feel are common are what make them relatable and your reflection on them makes them unique. I was inspired by the courage and vulnerability of my cohort to share their stories and I want to empower you to share your story on stages (big or small) that you have access to. The best way to get a sense of Our Voice Academy is to be courageous and share your story in the next tweet, blog post or summit stage. After sharing your story, gravitate toward those that reach out, those who see you, hear you and feel you. These are the people that will help amplify your voice.
Hybrid Teacher-Technology Coach
Toronto District, Ontario, Canada
Google Certified Innovator
Our Voice Academy Cohort 2
Founder of Racialized EDU
Taneesha A Thomas says
I’m grateful to have shared this experience with you. OVA is definitely a life changing experience that transforms the caterpillar into the butterfly.