A beautiful brown staircase winds its way down towards the entrance to the Our Voice Academy dinner. The goal of this multi-day academy is for educators of color to own their voice by building greater capacity to share their expertise, tell their stories on national and international stages, and stake claim to visible leadership in their field.
As I approached the door, we were greeted with warmth and excitement that I soon realized is both contagious and amplified from everyone in the room. Jennie Magiera and her team, Monica Martinez, Dee Lanier, and Sarah Thomas created an experience that has reshaped how I view my voice in education. They facilitated and coached us to see the best of ourselves in our stories and how we communicate our passions.
The Power of Oneness
For the most part, I did not know many of the participants, but it quickly became clear that each of us had a vested interest in being a catalyst for change in education. I knew I was at home when Dee used Rakim to illustrate the power of communication. I looked around the room and my counterparts were engaged, which gave me a sense of connection and validity. He took the time to gauge his audience and was able to make all of us refer back to good times that would create a link between all of us that made us ecstatic about the work.
The Keys to Success
From this experience, it is clear that telling my story is more than just the work I do every day. It is about creating a structure that is both organized and succinct. The development of such ideas cannot and should not be done alone. Working with my critical friend Santi allowed me to be connected with a partner who gave me honest feedback that refined my messages.
I am a sucker for strategies, and this experience did not disappoint! Whether it be brain breaks, grouping techniques, or think tanks, our time was spent purposefully to meet daily goals with each segment.
I don’t think I will ever look at how I design presentations the same ever again. Monica really took the time to share with us some great design principles and tips for polishing messaging. She gave great feedback that helped guide me towards the kind of attention that’s necessary to create poignant storytelling.
Sarah’s bag of tricks (she literally had a bag full of them) supported my techie side. Her sharing the story of Edumatch and how we too can build our capacity digitally provided the next steps for how I plan to amplify my voice and the ones around me.
Storytelling is an Art
Storytelling is truly an art form. Jennie helped us capture the innate nuances of how to share the stories that matter to us. She noted that we can evoke change in schools and communities. The end result was the opportunity to hear snippets of 19 diverse, thought-provoking moments in education. This experience has helped me develop my messages about connecting globally, instructional design, and student voice.
Martine (MAR-TEEN) Brown is the Ready 1:1 Instructional Coach for Garland Independent School District. With 14 years of experience in education, Martine has worked with students as an English Language Arts and AVID Elective Teacher. In her current role as an instructional coach, she provides school and district level professional development, job-embedded support for effective strategies of 21st-century learning, and models effective instructional and digital strategies with teachers. In her free time, she enjoys running and participating in 5k races. In 2016, she ran her first 1/2 marathon. She also likes to style hair, cook, dance, spend quality time with her husband Kevin, and children Devin, Maxwell, and Charlotte. Her mantra is Every Student Counts, and it is her mission to be a catalyst of change in education. You can follow Martine on Twitter at @mmbrown_brown.
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