Be Beautiful

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011

There are times in our lives when we are struck with the kind of clarity that surrounds us entirely, pressing us flat against the very core of who we are. Clarity that lets us see the things that we’ve worked hard to keep ourselves from seeing.

I have to thank Chris Lehmann for bringing such clarity in his ISTE closing keynote. And I hope he gets the chance to thank the students that read the incredible poem to us all at the outset of the talk. Because they reminded us of some critically important ideas.

They reminded us that it isn’t about us. It never has been. It’s not about us being brilliant for the sake of our own brilliance. It’s about us figuring out how we can help others see their own brilliance. And to help us make sure everyone knows. That they are beautiful. And that we can all do beautiful things. If we can find it in us to trust that and believe. In beauty. And ourselves.

I think I’ve forgotten to remember that lately. I’ve let things become about me. About what I’m doing. About what I could be doing. But I’ve forgotten, that what I’m doing really isn’t about me. It’s about what I could and should be doing for others. For my family. For my colleagues. For my community. For the students in my district. For anyone who isn’t me.

I believe if I can remember that, I can help others matter. Because it doesn’t really matter if I matter. It matters that I help others find how very much they matter.

I want to keep telling the stories of what matters. Of what I get lucky enough to see happening around me, of what I get to be part of, of what I get to watch and observe and notice in others as they are being brilliant. I want to make my work about helping kids and teachers and our community be brilliant. And beautiful.

I want to help tell stories like this. Or this. And especially this.

And I want to pause, as Bud has said, to think on all of this. Not to stop, or get stuck, but to pause. To give reflection the chance to work its way into action. Into focused action. To make opportunities for others. To help me tell the stories I see that need to be told. And to remind everyone I possibly can, as Chris said so well, to…

Be beautiful.




  1. Joan Young (@flourishingkids)
    June 30, 2011

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I really enjoyed the video clips and appreciate you and others who make me stop and pause. I do believe that we all need to slow down and be sure that our actions reflect the deep mission we are on to talk about what matters: the students. Once again, thank you, and next time I hope to meet you. I was at #ISTE11 for the first time and met so many wonderful people but also missed so many inspiring folks, like you.

  2. Bethany Smith
    June 30, 2011

    Great job on the video. I can see why you like Final Cut X so much – and I’m totally impressed with the footage you were able to take in such low light conditions. It tells a great story and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

  3. Scott S. Floyd
    July 3, 2011

    Well said, Ben. If the stories got out, there’s no way the state and federal ed departments could deny that teachers and students both make a difference.

  4. The Sessions I Attended « Ideas and Thoughts
    July 4, 2011

    […] takeaways: Certainly reminding our students they are beautiful is a message we can’t hear […]


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