It takes time to express yourself.
It takes effort to be precise.
Ideas are always possible when shared.
I am a huge fan of the 6 word memoir. I penned my first one in teacher’s college, and it has served me well for years. It goes:
I am a work in progress.
Take a look at the sign I’m holding in the picture above. You’ll notice I’ve reworded my original 6 word narrative, but did you see anything off about the picture? Hey! Other than the guy holding the sign?
The sign was rewritten to be inclusive of all learners. I am no longer a singular work in progress, but one of many works in progress. My calling as an educator has enabled me to see things differently now.
This year, one of my 6 word posts from Twitter was published in The Best Advice in Six Words, in November. Fortunately, my copy arrived in time to give to my dad as a Christmas present. The book has hundreds of pages of advice culled from a global cohort of advice givers, some of them famous, and others, like me, who are not so well known.
As dad gifts go, this one brings me full circle. It was my dad who distributed the wisdom growing up (he still does). Mom also played a huge role there too; she was the enforcer (she still is). Since starting my career in education it has been my goal to keep their work going.
While I was growing up, when my dad spoke I paid attention. It wasn’t out of fear, but in anticipation and respect. Although, he was always a man of few words what he shared resonated and stuck.
In September 1983 he told me, “It is a character building year.” (6 words) He wasn’t wrong. By the end of that school year in 1984, the joke became I had too much character. A bit of laughter reckoned the experience of completing grades 12 and 13 – while holding down a part time job, competing in sports, and working as student council spirit rep.
He also shared, “There aren’t any leaders without followers.” (6 words) Ouch! That one took me down a peg as an impetuous young man who knew everything and had figured out the rest. Dad was right. What we sow in the service of others, whether it was with kindness or encouragement mattered. Time after time since hearing those words they have anchored my worldview as an entrepreneur and educator.
6 word stories are also a part of my Literacy instruction. My students are tasked with writing 6 word character studies, 6 word essays, and 6 word reflections about their learning. The exercise allows us to throw language conventions out the window and get to the heart of ideas and understandings. Students are challenged at first to communicate their most important thoughts, uncluttered from superfluous details.
Maybe it is the simplicity of having only 6 words to work with that make it so effective in the classroom? Perhaps, my dad was like a 6 word chef way ahead of his time cooking and serving thoughts in:
Edible, tasty, digestible and memorable mindfuls.
Cheers to great progress in 2016.