Tonight's challenge: Synthesize the experiences/learning from my Friday night Barry Manilow concert (yes, I am a proud "Fan-i-low") and my Saturday workshop at CELI (Connected Educators of Long Island). Here goes:
There is something so joyful about being in a large arena and singing along to a song where everyone knows the words. The song was created by one person and had specific meaning when created, but then it is released into the world. The song becomes known and each person who sings it calls up different mental images and a slightly new interpretation of the story told in the song. The song is unique for all of us but shared by all of us as we sing together, strangers who know the same words. It's nice to sing the song by yourself but there is an energy that comes from singing it together.
Teaching traditionally has been a pretty solitary endeavor. It is you, alone, in the classroom with the students. Yet, for some time now, teachers have been seeking out ways to connect, share, question, and learn about each other's practices and what works. Today, I participated in Dr. Bill Brennan's vision- CELI, Connected Educators of Long Island here in Farmingdale. It was a chance for educators who have been connecting online to talk face to face and learn from each other. And just like last night, when I felt joy and energy singing along with a crowd, today I experienced joy and energy being surrounded by educators who love teaching, learning, books, and innovative ways to get their students engaged and passionate about the world.
Each of us who attended CELI will walk away with shared strategies, texts, apps, and professional development ideas but what we do with what we learned will look different. My friend and colleague, another Kathleen, attended the same sessions I did, but I know that we will both apply what we learned in the way that works for us and our students and it won't look identical. Just like the songs we sing together still call up different images in our minds, the ideas we were exposed to today will take root uniquely and will bloom based on our separate passions, interests, strengths, and experiences. In sharing what we come up with, we will form new ideas and strategies, too, thus creating a ripple effect of learning that doesn't end.
Learning is both solitary and social. Like listening to a song and making up your own images and story about the words you hear, learning happens in your mind when you come across new concepts, facts, ideas. That is the solitary party. Sharing what you know and listening to what others know and then knowing more and then sharing more- that is the social part of learning. Just like singing a beloved song with thousands of other people can be joyful and make you feel part of a community, learning with others can inspire you to see the possibilities you didn't even imagine before you came to learn.
Joy and inspiration and it's only Saturday. Not bad for a weekend.