Forums for Growth

Looking back to an event everyone on Repentino. was excited about – the November 5th Open Mic, the first time held at a restaurant – an open air restaurant – in Roma Norte – of course we were nervous. Strip away all the amazing talent, the extensive planning, and the fact that it is an Open Mic and exciting in itself – and you are left with an experience that redefines itself, and I find my self learning something every single time.


Maybe it is the fact that November is National Novel Month (NANO) and I am embroiled in events up to my neck and I am reaching a state of euphoria? Actually, I think NANO and Open Mic go hand in hand. This is my reasoning.

While it looks like, and sounds like maybe a talent show, there is more than meets the eye. The same with NANO. BOTH are opportunities to take what you have learned in a traditional educational setting and apply them in a real world situation. There is no greater gift, no greater opportunity to learn, then to work outside of the classroom sometimes as well. both give you the time to do so. I have been lucky enough to see bona-fide – determined writers come into an Open Mic and leave their graduating year with the talents of choreography and dancing, never once having been on their mind in the beginning. They were inspired to extend themselves. Confidence, nervousness, and experimentation go hand in hand. The certainly do so at Open Mic, and testing the limits of discipline and creativity are at every turn.

So you mean to tell me NANO offers the same thing? There is no stage, there are no mics, there are no Tech Clubs and planners, organizers, admin and parents to support this. Well, you’d be wrong to think otherwise. The stage is the notebook or laptop used to record the thoughts, experiences, photographs taken, th adventures not yet ventured and still, BEHIND that layer, it is a month truly of total abandon. People rediscover what makes them alive, what makes them THEM when they furiously sprint through words that in th beginning they have NO IDEA WHERE they are headed. The virtual writing prompts allow them to experiment with ideas, not their own but that become their own by the end. The forums connect them with people all over the WORLD that share ideas, creativity, and possibility. The injection of the experiences in and out of the classroom,all right there.

You realize many things as well. If you are in a line of work that allows you to take part in these experiences, you also realize you have a job that allows you to rediscover yourself. The misconception is that a) You need to have a job where you receive the highest position the highest pay, the most lucrative location — (false) and that B) Events like Open Mic and NANO are entertainment, are completely set aside for recreation (once again, false).   Once you run through such an event, you realize, that is a small, small portion of it, but the larger aspect of that is being given time to find out a little more about yourself, rediscover your past, and celebrating the things that have happened in a variety of ways. These two venues for sure allow you to do this. What better way to truly be happy than to have the TIME to do so? For the first 10 years of teaching I never had the chance to sit down, (or stand up) and actually practice something I wrote, read, or created and present it to a larger group of individuals.

Once I did this, I found wow, my time, the time I need to reflect on things that have occurred and that mean something to me? That us just as valuable as the time I am in the “workshop” of the classroom creating new possibilities. I value the things i have been able to achieve in the last few years but that is such a half truth. The I have achieved is not even remotely possible without those around me, than enabled me to have those culminating moments. Those I speak of ? Admin that support the activities that allow individuals to grow, the participants that take a risk to put themselves  out there, the educators that get as excited as the participants and push individuals every day to take risks and think outside of the box. The enables of such programs that show education and learning is a “messy” experience, one that is not restricted to lectures and motions, but actions. The mentors that continue to support al of the above, usually in the line of colleagues, peers, business owners, parents, and so many, many more.

NANO and Open Mic? Both successes, and all you need is the support of those around you, the creativity and experiences in a life, and NOT the need to be creative, you have that already in your life, all you need is to dig down a bit and deep. You’ll  surprised what comes out and is rediscovered that you become oh so thankful for!

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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