The aftermath of my TED talk has been pretty overwhelming. I've received so much positive feedback about my message, and I've made several wonderful connections with educators who are innovative in all aspects of teaching.
I ran into a colleague at the track last night who was one of the football coaches back when I was a high school student. We had a brief conversation about my talk and I really started thinking about some of the teachers who are in the background of my speech. As I moved forward and became a teacher myself, I ended up working with a few of the teachers who worked at my own high school growing up and even coached both the football and the cross country team, and I have to say they are amazing educators who I deeply respect. Looking back at my talk and how I delivered it, I should have figured that into it somehow.
These men that I now call colleagues, they have devoted a huge chunk of their lives to coaching kids - making track & field, football, and other great things happen in the lives of young people. My running coach, who I allude to in the talk in a brief way when I talk about the funny image of a 'green shorty short day', became a Vice Principal and has spent a huge chunk of his career dealing with the very situations I talk about in my speech, making kids' lives better by protecting them.
I still don't know how to fully sort out that situation, that memory, of the football players calling us faggots. I guess that's why in my talk I say that we just kept running. It was a different time, and somehow the crew of kids at that time were just resilient enough to slough it off and keep going. I have learned as an educator that in the world of kids things are said that the adults never know.
If we went back to that time I don't know if I would have dealt with it any differently as a young person - maybe I should have said something; maybe I just did the right thing and kept going. My colleague who I saw last night at the track, he told me that he would have done something had he known it was going on, and I know in my heart that he would have and that my coach would have protected us in the best way he knew how, too.
In the end despite that memory, my high school days were pretty awesome. My coach was one of the most influential men in my life, and the staff at my high school did the best they could to make high school the best days of our lives. I hope that my talk didn't imply in any way that the adults in the situation just let it all happen.
One thing is for sure - My talk is about how kids these days are more accepting of each other than they've ever been, how they treat each other better than they ever have - this culture of respect among students is in large part due to the hard work and care of the very teachers who were around back in the day.