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Ongoing Quest

I wrote this during my last year teaching. It had been a particularly challenging day in the classroom and beyond. The students were full of energy and it was not always healthy. I grew frustrated and visibly annoyed part way through the afternoon. Part of it was a lack of a healthy relationship with the administration, which seeped into my teaching at times. It was challenging to set those frustrations aside, particularly with little support and how it impacted my teaching.

Having said thi, I chose to teach anothere year and wanted to teach those particular students. On myway home, I realized I need to establish a different, encouraging tone. In a sense, my ability to influence is my ability to recognize my reality and walk into the fire, the crucible, so to speak.In his teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh reminds me even weeds of a tough day serve a purpose. They fertilize and increase the yield of a crop: children’s learning and this could be lost on on me. For the remainder of the school year, some 7-8 months, I used this as my touchstone.

Sometimes, I allow myself to assume what is out there makes me who I am. If I let it, I succumb to those forces. On the other hand and stepping back from the brink, I reclaim my view and my callings in life. I do not let others and circumstances dictate who I am. I can choose how to respond. This is no mean feat as, in the heat of  the battle, it is hard to not be reactionary. The best I can do is be the best I can be in a moment, reflect later, and grow anew with fertilizer provided by tough moments.


ongoing quest,

seeking vision,

unearthing a better, truer self–

digging deep,

resting in my heart.


polishing the gems of self,

righting speech! righting action!

influencing others properly–

reclaiming my voice,

bringing forth my best.

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I got The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan when I was in high school. I still have it and still spin the vinyl after all these years. Although it is now almost 60 years old, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall still rings true for me today. Dylan wrote this in the midst of the Cold War with nuclear threats all around. Today, we are in the midst of multiple crises: health, wealth distribution, inequities, etc. The question I should ask in difficult times, small and large, is how can I be the difference I want to see in the world to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi? Even if it is difficult, it is noble, virtuous, and hopeful, in the face of great obstacles, to speak truth to power, (re)calling I can only make the difference I can make.


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.

19 responses »

  1. The best we can all do is care for ourselves, so that we are hopeful and making positive, loving contributions to the collective, even from the small corner of the world we reside in. The honesty you express in your writing is a wonderful contribution!

  2. What a wonderful lesson Ivon. Thank you for sharing 💛

  3. Even the weeds add something to the garden – fertilizer! Love this, C

  4. A very thoughtful post, and a great song!

  5. Great introspective writing ! Must-read for all teachers. Thanks Ivon.

  6. All we can do is be the best we can be at any given moment. Each experience teaches us new ways to look at the world. Your posts open my eyes to many possibilities.

  7. Ha! I would so love to hear what your Mom had to say about Bob Dylan!

    I learned a LOT while completely paralyzed in the hospital last year. There is something about suddenly having to wear a bib and a diaper again at the age of fifty-three that demonstrates just how much we are in control of and how quickly these can be stripped away. Something the entire world is learning THIS year. For all our posturing about being “Masters of our own Destinies” one thing always remains, our freedom to choose. But it is even more precise than that. I could have chosen to twirl around the room for all the good it would have done me. So ultimately it boiled down even more. The ability to chose … my response. So says Laura-Lee.
    Thank you for another thought-provoking and simultaneously calming post. However, we are STILL all waiting for your pig udder poem, Ivon. 😛 Get to it. Chop, chop. LL

    • Mom could be interesting. While she did not like our music jmost of the time, she watched Monty Python’s Flying Circus with Daniel and me. She laughed as hard as we did at their antics and skits.

      We are not in control of everything and that is hard to admit. It takes certain level of humility to say, “I need to step back and figure out what I do control, e..g. my response.” But, even the responses are hard to control. We get in the heat of life and react.

  8. So much here I can use!! And the ending, perfect!! Thank you😊


  9. Maybe my favorite Dylan album. Love the cover as well. And isn’t This the truth! “even weeds of a tough day serve a purpose.”

    Nicely done.


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