Team, Place, Time

For the past few days, it’s felt as though I’m moving through that labyrinth or maze at breakneck speed.  There were so many new connections, new ideas, and encounters with people that “just happened” to occur.  I suppose I should feel closer than ever to the goal, and sometimes I do.  But sometimes I’m overwhelmed, even terrified, when I think of the unresolved stuff and the financial pressures and the looming first days for teachers and students in factory-world.

There was a long, lively Google+ conversation about Friday’s post about labyrinths and mazes.  It seems that they’re a powerful symbol for lots of people!  I forgot to mention how crowded the church was for Thursday evening’s walk.  Sometimes there are just a few “regulars,” like myself and the folks who were hosting; sometimes the orientation video sits unwatched because there’s nobody new.  But on Thursday, there was a crowd of first-time walkers watching the video and an even greater crowd walking from the beginning.  What drew us all there, I wonder.  Is that feeling of seeking the next right path as widespread as I’m starting to believe?

I was tired on Friday, so I spent much of the day at home with The Dog and The Cat.  I’m sure they appreciated that.  I also spent a lot of time reading, reflecting, and responding to all sorts of Google+, Twitter, and Facebook-group threads.  The one that jumps out in my memory was this one about a fascinating, passion-driven school that’s going to be funded and supported by an existing district in Iowa.  Would that be appealing – the best of all worlds?  Perhaps, I thought, but after two decades inside a large school district, I’m very familiar with what happens to small, innovative programs when Powers and Priorities change.  As Debbie put it,

“Don’t take the money” wisdom…..along with the money comes someone else’s vision, mandates, expectations, and requirementsSo can you do something like this without becoming connected “officially” with the system?

And I still don’t have an answer to that question.

I did spend two hours Saturday morning helping out with the Senior Class Car Wash.  And I’m glad.  I had spent a lot of time alone and inside during the week, and I hadn’t quite realized how much the lack of sunlight had affected my mood.  After two hours of sustained, face-to-face conversation – all of it outside in the beautiful sunlight – I was feeling a whole lot better.  It’s a good thing, too, because Saturday and Sunday afternoons were brutally hot: not a good time to be outside.  Is it significant that, as the Responsible Adult, I got to talk with everyone who stopped, got cars washed, and made donations?  And is it significant that, over and over, I heard people’s heartfelt pleas for a different kind of education for young people, one that would prepare them to take initiative, see problems, find solutions, rather than wait for a Big Existing Organization to come along and solve things?

With my own car cleaner than it had been in months, I left the car wash and headed over to the Local Bookstore to do some writing and thinking.  I hadn’t been there long when someone greeted me … and we both realized we had met at That Train The Trainers Training last week.  K and I struck up a conversation, and then her friend and colleague Ms. P joined her; they’d intended to meet and do some planning for the school year ahead.  Over the next few hours, as they planned and I wrote, we talked about everything from differentiating instruction to creating meaningful subgroups of their students – considering things like learning preferences and prior levels of knowledge along with the demographic categories they normally consider.

I’d had an insight about data and information that I shared with them: the way that schools collect and report on data obviously shapes the kinds of questions teachers and other educators ask about the data they receive.  If car manufacturers collected fuel economy data the way schools collect student performance data, teams of engineers everywhere would be agonizing about how to raise the average fuel economy of blue cars in comparison with silver ones and the national average!  They might even accomplish something.  But is the color of the car a significant factor in fuel economy gaps?  Probably not.  Vehicle size, engine type, and driving style are a lot more significant.  What are the equivalent factors for students?

Meanwhile, George’s Google+ post about pedagogies and scale sparked an amazingly rich conversation, and that cross-pollinated with Don’s thread about the purpose of schools in general and this conversation that Roz started about “cognitive refugees,” the learners my Ms. X friends dismiss as the “bad, lazy ones.”  And in the midst of these virtual conversations came another face-to-face one, with a friend at church who works as a substitute teacher at one of the more “troubled” schools in the Local District.  “Tell me again,” she said, “about what you’re wanting to do.”  And we talked for an hour or more about providing hope and opportunities for young learners who get dismissed, labeled, and shunted aside … about the why and the how and even, to a small degree, the where.  I heard back from someone else, someone that K and Ms. P reminded me about on Saturday, who’s as intrigued and excited by the idea of an after-school joyful community program as I’d hoped he would be.

You’d think I would be excited, even thrilled … and I am.  Some of the time.  But summer is fleeting, and those last few “precious days” are trickling away.  Am I being called to another year (or part of a year) of in but not of the factory system?  If so, how will I balance all the competing demands on my time?  If not, where will the money come from?  An old friend “just happened” to post a link to a sermon she’d preached on Sunday, and the way she pulled threads together helped me.

But I still feel as lost as Abraham wandering in the desert!  Is it time to move on or to camp for a while?  And when it’s time to move on, what’s the right direction?  Lots of questions, but better questions, less painful ones, than I was facing a week ago.  Thanks for being part of this journey, fellow builders and sustainers of joyful community!

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Published in: on August 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm  Comments (4)  

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  1. […] I was writing yesterday’s post, I realized I wasn’t feeling well.  The day had started with coughing and sneezing – but […]

  2. […] I was going to call this post “Taking Right Steps,” but I realized I’d already used that title earlier this year.  Rereading that post, I’m struck by the amount of change since early January.  That was before All The Snow, all the events of the spring that I’ve chronicled here.  It was before I had a clear sense of where the Next Right Thing ought to happen and what that Next Right Thing should look like early on.  It was before I’d met a bunch of people who became part of the team that will change dreams and plans into solid reality.  Team, place, time … I haven’t forgotten that phrase, though it’s been almost a year since I wrote about it here. […]

  3. […] I kept asking, “who’d be interested in something like this?”  And people did, but team, place, and time never quite came […]

  4. […] a welcoming space and a few simple tools to start out … a team, a place, and some time, as I put it a year or so ago.  But it’s hard to ask or answer  where, when, and who if you’re […]


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