Rola Tibshirani is a well-travelled, well-read, and reflective learner and educator. She and I always have so much to discuss, and it was nice to carve out a chunk of time to catch up with her and record her Personal Playlist Podcast. Rola and I first met through interactions on various Twitter chats including #ONedchat. She is a bilingual voice on the Canadian educational landscape and blogs about her thinking in her suitably titled Learning Progression.
As Rola began to introduce her nostalgic song, she talked about her father and the amazing role model he was for others. This is a song that she and her dad used to sing all the time. He was a positive and grateful person who believed in so many ideals and was a true giver. “He ran every charity and was very immersed in the community,” she shared. Rola was teaching abroad and made it to Saskatoon from London to get to his bedside in his final moments. She began to sing her nostalgia song to him, and the “hm” in response to the song was her father’s last utterance. Rola’s father passed away an hour and a half later, while the song was playing. Though it’s been 15 years since he passed, this song connects Rola to her father. She even bridges that to the connections, comfort, trust and valuing of each other that she builds with her students through a supportive learning community. As the song says, “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on, for it won’t be long, til I’m gonna need, somebody to lean on.” Here is Lean On Me by Bill Withers.
Rola recently returned from #CAGIT17, the Google Geo institute. She was so excited to share some of the details of her learning and how these tools help to connect learners as global citizens and so much more. She sees Geography as a way to promote, “…understanding people from around the world through images and voices.” I am waiting to read her blog post about all the she learned on this amazing and inspiring trip to Google. To consolidate her learning, Rola uses reflection through her blog and videos like this one that she created after reading How to Personalize Learning. She has taught at international schools including her longest stay in Saudi Arabia. Rola models global connection through relationship building and by creating authentic and engaging experiences for her learners. Her identity song is one that is a metaphor for global connection to help realize how small the world is. This is K’naan’s Waving Flag as sung by Young Artists for Haiti who collaborated to help Haiti recover from the devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake on January 12, 2010, which raised over a $1 million dollars for the cause:
Rola is a woman of many talents, but this one really surprised me. As she began to introduce her pick-me-up song, she prefaced it in the context of her aerobics class. She taught aerobics for many years and would use this song to allow participants to lead a routine during the song, personalizing workouts before she brought this tool to her classroom. “ We would do the hardest workout for Wipeout…the adults loved it because you build that community of being together…improving together.” This is the kind of coaching that she does in the classroom, and when Rola adds something to the panel discussions on the weekly #ONedmentors show, we all learn so much from her.
Rola has been building her practice of learning through reflecting for over a decade and is transparent about her processes and her goal of responsiveness. Some of her closing remarks included valuing everybody’s thinking and respecting each personal experience together in a classroom through a team approach. Her playlist illuminates so many aspects of the ever-modest Rola Tibshirani and all that she offers her students and the profession.
Rola wrote me later to tell me that when she got in the car after the P3 recording, Lean on Mewas playing on the radio. This Personal Playlist Podcast experience is endlessly enchanted, and every person who I have been privileged to interview has brought his or her own strange and beautiful magic to the recording. I am truly grateful for this podcast and the amazing educators who share themselves through their song choices.