Being together

Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life. Isaac Bashevis Singer (via nezua)

Sea Lions live in colonies. These ones are hanging out together in San Francisco. They can also spend weeks at a time hunting in the open sea. Click image for source.
Sea Lions live in colonies. These ones are hanging out together in San Francisco. They can also spend weeks at a time hunting in the open sea. Click image for source.

Yesterday I commented on Kelly Hines’ post Core Beliefs about my own core belief that learning happens in community.

Today I found this beautiful sentence in  Michael Doyle’s post Puddles:

When one wanders away from one’s usual world, it’s good to have company.

I remember how Meg Wheatley’s words created a shift in me when I first read them a few years ago, that conversation is the natural way we humans think together (from the book Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope for the Future).

So what does this all have to do with my job as a teacher?

Learning can be about wandering away from one’s usual world, I think that good learning must. When we are learning new ideas we are changing our cognitive framework.

Imagine, we have the innate ability to change our thinking processes, biologically.

While this is happening, especially if it is with a paradigmatic shift in our thinking and beliefs, it is not only good to have company, I think it is necessary.

There are certain states that people need to feel they are in for learning (or change) to be able to happen – a sense of belonging, of safety, of worth. As teachers, we don’t always know if our students experience those states outside of our classroom (though we can sometimes guess based on the behaviours that we see in it!). A big part of my job is to create an environment that encourages these states to be. Not only for students in my classroom but for my colleagues in theirs as well.

Sometimes we need to tell it like it is. Photograph by Joel Sartore, click to view source at National Geographic.
Sometimes we need to tell it like it is. Photograph by Joel Sartore, click to view source at National Geographic.

I’m not talking lovey-dovey group hug, you are so special all the time kind of support. I just mean good solid, I know you are here for me and I am here for you and we will be honest kind of support. The kind of support that allows for conflict – the best learning often happens through it.

The support that we as teachers and that our students as co-learners can give each other is vital for learning (change) to happen.

I think of the hard-as-nails student who, in June, wrote a personal reflection on how she had changed over the year. She sobbed openly throughout the hour or so she took to write, shaking her head no when I asked if she wanted to write somewhere else.

Sometimes it can be as basic as just being together that allows us to take the risks we need to take to change how and what we learn.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Hi Elona,
    That’s what teaching is all about for me as well :)
    Thanks so much for your comments here, they always point to something important for me.
    Tracy

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