The end of the school year always feels like a mixed bag–excitement at the thought of relaxation and summertime, but wistfulness and sadness at saying farewell to the year, with students and friends leaving, and with things left undone, potential unfulfilled. But usually it feels over. Like things are packed up–put away, set aside, and then next year, we have a completely fresh start, almost like starting over.
But this year, a group of us are working on something that feels like it has the potential to provide a sense of continuity–and of a sense that our work is a continuing endeavor instead of something that is just ending so we can “start over” the next year. And that’s a different feeling, to feel like we’ve somehow started some conversation that is going to keep going.
A group of us have planted the seeds for a professional learning community, and amazingly, the last two weeks of school, we’ve had over 25 teachers volunteer to participate, and they’ve even attended after school meetings talking about educational philosophy (a week before school is out!)
We’re making a commitment as a group to spend a year having conversations about improving our teaching, investigating constructivism and more student-based learning, doing readings, hosting guest speakers, and trying to grow as educators.
Even our planning meetings have evolved into philosophical discussions about teaching that have led us to share articles and books with one another, and we are just barely beginning. This summer we’re planning monthly coffee get togethers to start our conversation and to get to know one another since our group is pretty diverse curricularly.
So although it is a wistful time saying goodbye to our current students, it also feels like we are beginning something very significant–and a conversation that will continue as we define our learning for ourselves.
It’s also exciting because it’s a grass-roots effort on the part of a group of us, and we’re determined to have a sort of “leaderless” organization (Starfish and Spider like), so that it becomes something self-sustaining at our campus. (or so we hope).
And a lot of things have led us to this point, which also feels like more of a sense of continuation, rather than a disconnected set of workshops or events. So even though we are stumbling, tired, through the last two days of school there is a sense of something brewing on the horizon, and that feels truly exciting.
And another thought–whenever you wish or wonder why your school can’t change, or get frustrated about things….each of you has the power to reach out to other teachers at your school, and ask them to join you in forming a community of explorers. We each do have the power to begin the conversation.