Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ending and a New Beginning

I am finishing an extended journey. I have been living and breathing an incredible time with a courageous group of twelve. We have struggled, cried, triumphed and learned more in 15 months than can be easily put into words. We have been through two weddings and a baby, countless hours of work away from our families, and mountains of books and papers.

We have been reading, writing, pursuing understanding of new concepts and the integration of those already slightly familiar into our existing schema. We have been writing and reading and researching. We have been questing to find what it takes to make sense of the material for all of us. We have been learning.

I have learned that what makes me a better teacher is also being a continual student. Whereas some instructors inspired through example, as Miles Horton put it, some of my best teachers were the worst teachers. I also learned what NOT to do and what it must feel like when I am not clear with directions, when I change requirements at the last minute, have no clear goal for assessments, other than as a grade to put into a book, and what happens when the experience of my students is TOTALLY ignored and make no attempt to start from where my students are rather than with the same lessons the same handouts, the same method of attacking the material.

I have seen this incredible group of intelligent folks become behavior problems out of self-preservation, so we would not lose our minds in classes that did not adapt to our needs, our experience, our collective knowledge and find a way to push us to learn more. I have seen those who have struggled meet the challenges of technology and wrestle with concepts that are the antithesis of their core values and come through as more enlightened educators.

I have also learned that through it all, I can perserve -- one page, one paper, one assignment at a time. I learned that I can rise to a new level of expectation and meet it even when I have only had three hours of sleep. I miss the time to spend with family and nature and I know that this too shall pass and soon those simple pleasures will be available to me again.

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