When the world becomes a slippery slope, when it becomes a place unrecognizable from what we thought we knew, when we are no longer certain of how it works and of our place in it, it is easy to want to retreat. To box ourselves off into what feels safe and secure. Though in doing that, we become ever more isolated and disconnected.
This recent guest post by the lovely poet Naomi Shihab-Nye, shared in response to the recent terrorism in Paris, so reminded me it is often the times we most want to cocoon away, we most need to connect. It feels counter-intuitive. But so many times when we take a leap of faith towards trust- amazing things happen.
It feels so much the same in education these days. There has always been a shouting of ideologies. There are always those who rush in with a “quick fix” that ultimately proves not to live up to expectations. Education has become so mired in the muck of initiatives and mandates that seem to forget we deal with human beings whose lives are rich and messy and cannot be quantified with numbers alone. It is no wonder teachers these days have begun to pull away from the fray, holding onto what feels known and comfortable.
As our district has transitioned into using workshop models, I see this over and over. Teachers are are understandably afraid workshop instruction is just one more flash in the pan. They hold back from adopting the unfamiliar structures and cling to comfort of the known path. They feel so much pressure to help their students achieve and are uncertain this will get them there. Adopting workshop feels like leaping into the darkness.
I want to say, leap! Workshop is grounded in the students. It allows their stories and the stories of others to become the center. It gives students a voice and allows them opportunities to hear and reflect on the voice of others. It is through talking and connecting with others we turn fear to community, the unknown to a favorite destination.
But I am reminded, for this change to be true, for it to feel safe, and for it to last, it must also be grounded in story. I need to listen. I need to hear what is needed. Small steps lead to shared cookies.
This is the world I want to teach in. This can happen here.