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Speaking One’s Truth

I wrote this as I was making decisions about continuing to teach. There had been considerable upheaval as new administrators arrived and left, families left, and a friend and colleague retired. I found myself constantly in the midst of a storm with little or no control in how things might move forward. At a retreat in Oakland, I spent considerable time reflecting and journaling about the issue at hand, so this was not intended to be a poem and it took a year to write itself.

What I wrote was a summary of the past year and the struggle to ways to create in my teaching and be more present to my students. What I lacked was confidence in who I was and what I was enacting as a teacher, the performativity and improvisation essential to my teaching. I planned a lot in my teaching, but the depth of planning allowed me to improvise in ways that a lack of planning could not.

In The Book of Joy, The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu discuss how loss and fear lead to anger. What is important is during challenging times to try to be aware of what gives us meaning and hope in life. Although I would love to teach and be part of educating the next generation of teachers, I find it easier to accept that is not happening, focusing energies on writing and teaching in a new way. If the situation arose to teach and educate the next generation of teachers, I would consider it. What it is not doing is defining who I am and my life.

It’s emerging,


Letting go;

Speaking with love–

Accepting the lost.

Sitting with questions,

Accepting uncertainty, incompleteness–

Taking stock;

Gazing inwards–

Feeling humbling hope.

Accepting extended hands,

Discarding baggage–

Walking forwards;

Living my truth;

Questing in each moment.

I took this picture in Arizona in March. It was the last of five I took. Each day, as I walked back, the cactus had bloomed one or two more flowers. The cactus and its flowers exist just to be a cactus and its flowers, beautifying the world. They remind me, even in harsh conditions, plants and animals flourish in their time.

As I was writing, Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up played. It is appropriate. As we face challenges, we move on up and achieve, albeit an unpredictable, something.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

14 responses »

  1. Always when September arrives I feel a draw to teaching for the semester…but I’ve let go…I always thoroughly enjoyed teaching students 🤓☺️ enjoy your writing Ivon. ~ sending joy hedy 💫

    • I always enjoyed the students. Even the ones who challenged my patience. My mom used to say, “God put that person there for a reason.” Quite often, the reason was so I could become more patient, compassionate, and caring.

      Interesting, but I did not miss the classroom in September. I think I was so just done with the bureaucracy, technocracy and neo-liberal workings of schools.

      Take care and enjoy Hedy.

  2. Teaching is something we never stop doing. Once a teacher, always a teacher. I’m just glad right now that I’m not in the classroom with all the rules and regulations. My first graders would have been very uncomfortable as I recall. But I still feel that I educate by writing my blogs, articles, and books to tell others about little pieces of history and special people they might meet along the way.

    • You are so right Bev. My friend talks about the desire to tell the child in church or the market to behave. It is just a reflex.

      I think you make a wonderful distinction. Paulo Freire used the word educand, which means to engage in educating, in his later works. This means we engage in our own education and that of others. This does not require a classroom or title per se. It only requires an open heart and a good ear.

  3. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  4. IN A SENSE, i kept at it until I found something else. You are a fine “poetition”, sir.The above “Gypsie Bev” comment expresses the understanding I’ve come to—“teaching” becomes a skill to be used anywhere and at any time, not restricted to public or private classrooms, even while focusing elsewhere for one’s meat and drink.

  5. My decision to retire happened suddenly. I only had two more years to go before I’d be 66. But I was having some difficulties with the administration and didn’t feel supported in any way. So I began toying with the idea of retiring a year early. Monetarily, I knew it was better for me to stay another year but emotionally, I wasn’t so sure.
    One afternoon after work, I was in the grocery store. In line in front of me was a former coworker worker. She was towing her oxygen wasn’t in good shape at all. That decided me.
    I realized I wanted to be healthy and active when I retired so I’d have yours to enjoy it since we never know what the future will bring. I remembered to friends who retired after teaching for many years and died the first summer after their retirement. I decided to go for it and I’ve never been sorry.
    I organize my retirement paperwork the next day and turned it in the day after that.

    • It works that way at times Emilie. When I left banking to return to university and complete education degree, that is how it happened. It took a year and half to get to school, but I walked in the house and told Kathy I was done with banking.

      I could have stayed in teaching another 10 years, got a better pension, and made good money for a decade. My heart was not in it. It was not the students and their families. I loved being in the classroom, interacting with students, and sharing with parents. What I do not miss is the bureaucratic and technocratic neo-liberal nonsense.

      I fill my days reading, writing, and occasionally getting something published. I do some student-teacher supervision for a small university and find the student teachers enjoy the interaction, reaching out via LinkedIn and Twitter to me. I am not the right kind of Christian to teach at the school. Apparently Catholic doesn’t qualify and being a critical pedagogue is a challenge. But, I get to decide what my days look like.

  6. I could imagine what you went through. But you are so right when you say, “What is important is during challenging times to try to be aware of what gives us meaning and hope in life.”

    • We sometimes forget to do that. I know I end up wallowing a bit when I don’t look forward with hope. In a recent article, we argue hope is too often conflated with unrelenting optimism. Hope is always tinged with reality.

  7. Despite our differences in some ways, we all going through the similar situations one time or another. I particularly like the last two lines: Living my truth; Questioning in each moment.


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