When I was little, but old enough to converse and ask questions, my nick name was “Last Word Lori.”  This name spun a trail shadowing me into adulthood and rightfully so. I am neither proud nor ashamed of this label. It feels authentic and part of who I am or more accurately, who I am becoming.  Whether it was the last word in an argument or a question I felt compelled to ask, desiring a hearty response that felt logical and made sense was a self-induced mission.

This is a story of questions and mystery within the framework of education where all people begin in life. It is the story of the power of thought and perspective. Bundles of thoughts circulate in our minds forming beliefs, and beliefs create perspectives. We collectively label our beliefs as right, wrong, good or bad, but they are just thoughts until we give them meaning and credence. As teachers, administrators and parents we are responsible for the thoughts and perspectives we hold or evaluate. I encourage you throughout this book to explore your perspectives, seeing how rigid or pliable they feel, as you reach within your heart and mind exploring this new paradigm of teaching and learning. Contrast, exploring opposing events, provided through teaching and life occurrences is a gift IF we choose to experience it that way. When we see what we desire, we give further attention to this person or event, therefore boosting positive emotion.  When we are confronted with a situation or person that feels taxing, we can choose how we respond. If we choose anger for a brief time, slowly watching it shift to acceptance, we then are able to carve out a place for an opening heart and mind that are able to embrace thoughts that slowly improve and are increasingly productive and beneficial inside our growth and self-evolution.  We have the freedom to alter our thoughts and reflect, rather than complaining and bemoaning a relationship or experience that feels upsetting.

I believe all persons tend to struggle and become increasingly frustrated when we find ourselves entangled inside another’s problems or challenges, which is ultimately their journey. What looks bothersome to us may be just the perfect incident or circumstance for a child or adult’s self-growth and development.  I believe the flowing stream of effective and valuable education requires a malleable perspective and a keen active awareness.

Part one of this book is a collection of questions, notions, and personal antidotes highlighting the experiences of heart connections with those events and persons that assist in the authorship of our lives.  Questions about our future are bubbling with possibility as we explore and ask ourselves, who am I?  What is my purpose? What is the purpose of life?  Who am I that teaches? Why am I teaching? Who are my students?  The stories and experiences are italicized for clarification and understanding, while the research, notions and questions are discussed.

The mythology in part two of the book, will take you to an extraordinary place that is within all of us if we have the eyes to see and the imagination to experience its substance. This section draws attention to the great teachers of the past, the Sages, who assist the students and readers in moving to the heart, delving inside the active life of teaching and learning.  Part three continues to follow the young life of Gabe, a student of the Sages and a first year teacher who is learning as much about himself as he is his students, imagining the sights and sounds when teaching and learning join hands. Gabe and his experiences are replicas of the hearts, minds and experiences of the teachers I am currently mentoring, although the names and experiences have been changed. The Fellowship of Sages is a creative vision of what I hope to see, take part in and read about in future years; retired, active and deceased educators sharing journals and memoirs of their perspectives, feelings and teaching experiences in small forums throughout international and national communities.  “You cannot hate anybody if you have walked in their shoes” This is the perspective that is the work of education, compassion.

So it is with the notion of imagination and an open heart that we will travel to the unexplored territories where teacher and student meet, gently seeing one another in the eyes of the other. Education is the catalyst, the means to examine a “chaos theory” where the movement of experiences, people, and ideas occurs through a paradigm shift. Chaos theory happens when old ways break down and the new cannot be immediately seen.  It is a time when old ideals in education and therefore “life” are falling away creating space for the new.  The Sages recalled that when hearts open and curiosity piques, persons feel empowered by the guidance of their majestic thoughts and creative questions. These great teachers knew that successful education was not a matter of rigor and content verses relationship and reflection- it was both! The art of teaching and the science of teaching were becoming one discipline in this new time of living, and the children across the world would experience it in this place…

In this place, raw change occurs within, which is where every answer to life’s questions resides.

How do we successfully meet the needs of our students and parents while fulfilling our own? Unable to find what I am looking for, it is time to write. When we model and inspire an attitude of serving another, we carry the potential to create a tsunami of change that prepares the world for a reflective response – combining the intellect of the mind and heart which produces an extraordinary shift in our perspectives and capacity to deeply understand one another within education and moreover, the world.

I am fidgety and ready to share a new story or maybe one we have forgotten- a story saturated in imagination and compassion where all persons envision their gifts and potential through the wisdom of the heart and through the eyes of another. I visualize a community of learners where serving another is effortless; an expected, operative and integral facet of community life.  People are our mirrors, our looking glasses, and our roadmaps for journeying through life.  Sound strange? We look through one another’s looking glass everyday; observing, assessing, and fine tuning ourselves through the conscious or subconscious thoughts we hold within the context of the people we meet and the relationships developed. Teachers and students actively participate in life and its day to day relationships and experiences, beyond those formed inside the walls and buildings of schools. We are consciously and/or subconsciously discovering life lessons, authentic gifts from all persons we encounter -if our eyes are open.