Saturday, July 02, 2011

Community-- dreams deferred?

Dreaming and smiling as I dreamed--
about learning
about teaching
about self directed novice and expert learners collaborating
continually practicing their practice (full attribution SLA Poetry Jam, final keynote on ISTE11)
engaging in difficult conversations
challenged by cognitive dissonance
making the time to grow and nurture a more accomplished global practice
fulfilling a commitment I'd like to think we make to children, to each other to be the best we can
in vibrant, synergistic online communities

For I also believe, as does Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach who so eloquently has put it:
"the secret to change lies in developing the social fabric, capacity and connectedness found in communities of practice and learning networks. I believe that by focusing on a strengths-based model of education, looking at possibilities rather than problems, by using inquiry to ask the kinds of questions that reveal the gifts each of us bring to the table, by realizing that “none of us is as good as all of us” and somehow leveraging all of that to shift the conversations toward building a new future- one that focuses on the gifts each teacher, student, parent and leader has, that we have all we need to create an alternative future for schools. One that focuses on the well-being of the whole and uses diversity as a means to innovation."
Waking up suddenly,
jolted by a fear
that incredible opportunities whooshed right on by

Wondering if or how we haven't articulated what we've experienced and discovered in a way that others might also feel compelled embrace this path to transformation---

Striving continually to be better educators in online communities does not consist of quick, surface reading and many times 140 characters shorter replies. There's value there yet-- it is in communities where members commit to deep reflection, to sharing personal practice, to add value to the community, to exploring and trying new ideas that true potential for systemic change lies.

Learning in community, becoming better in community takes time-- we need to make the time to take time. The value we derive from participation can not be understated.

Being transparent and open to new ideas, acknowledging and dealing with cognitive dissonance is alien to some in our profession. Yet, as Joe Bower suggests:
"However, rather than seeing cognitive dissonance as a crisis to be avoided, the most successful people in the world embrace cognitive dissonance as a remarkable opportunity. They see it as a fork in the road where they can choose to continue down the comfortable status quo, or they can take a turn down a new, unfamiliar road. This is exactly how trailblazing starts. There may be no other way to engage in real improvement and authentic innovation."
Learning in community takes courage; if we are to work to provide the schools our children deserve, we need to make a choice-- acquiescence or courage. Joe Bower speaks to courage in his post when he quotes Mara Sapon Shevin (one of my former professors)
"Courage is what it takes when we leave behind something we know well and embrace (even tentatively) something unknown or frightening. Courage is what we need when we decide to do things differently... Courage is recognizing that things familiar are not necessarily right or inevitable. We mustn't mistake what is comfortable with what is good."
Wondering too what happens to a dream deferred?

Langston Hughes

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