So that’s that. I’m almost exactly two years in.
I jumped head first into workshop practice at the start of the fourth grading quarter of the 2016-2017 school year. This was about the same time I asked to try my hand at sponsoring our Student Council on top of coaching football in the fall and soccer in the spring.
I learned I’m a glutton for punishment.
Two years of workshop practice elapsed and I still quake at my lack of knowledge and experience.
I’m still a novice; yet I’m motivated now more than ever before.
I think we can all agree that Workshop is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s kind of like standing in front of one of the largest living organisms on the planet.
Recently, I traveled across California on a site seeing adventure that shared some symbolism with my workshop journey.
As my family and I wound upward in elevation through a mountain forest ten days ago, we started noticing giants. They stood out from the other bits of foliage not just in their massive size, but also in their presence. The sensations reminded me of the amazing teachers I’ve met. Have you ever noticed how some teachers have almost an aura about them? I feel it every day before school, between classes, at meetings or even just walking down the hall.
Standing among those behemoths was exhilarating. I’m a big guy and these ancient giants made me feel like a tiny speck, a flea at their feet. I’ve never felt so insignificant, small, or helpless. If you haven’t stood next to one, you can’t possibly understand the deep sense of awe, unless you know truly transcendent teachers, as I do.
The same feelings that massive trees evoke pour out of my mind as I reflect on my journey with workshop; which I do often.
Maybe you are like me and sometimes feel overwhelmed by the complicated and time consuming process of delivering workshop style instruction day in and day out.
Many of my peers tell me how much they love this pedagogy, but also remark how much preparation is necessary to be true to what the students need most. They are so right!!!
Despite the struggle. Despite the time and stress…in me:
So the following ideas are what work best for me:
Engage the professionals around you – I learn more from the professionals around me than I do from anywhere else. Our impromptu hallway discussions are invigorating and refreshing. Teachers learn best from teachers.
Engage the professionals in your professional library – There exists an avalanche of information for us to access. Of course Kittle, Gallagher, Romano, Newkirk, Anderson, Atwell and so many others should be studied and reviewed yearly. There are many new and notable books that I’ve experienced just this year:
Engage the professionals on social media- For so long I was afraid of social media and its potential impact on my professional life. I felt it was for the kids and better left alone. Boy was I wrong. Social media leverages collaboration in a way that nothing else has ever done. Twitter chats are so much fun to follow, much less participate in. Check this out.
Engage in reflecting on your own work- Take time to write about your experience. I’ve found writing about this journey to be cathartic and energizing. Its more than writing though, its recording my place in this movement. We are changing the world by advocating for literacy to emerge in the forefront of education.
Charles Moore is currently neck deep in Fates and Furies and is engrossed finding more books for his library.