Whenever I attend an institute or reunion weekend at Teacher's College, I am embraced by a sense of community. It is easy to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you (yes, we turn and talk too!) because we share common beliefs and values. We have a similar purpose. I may be there to learn more about one aspect of workshop and my partner may be there to learn something else but we are really there because we want to learn - to be a better teacher for our students. We are a community of learners.
Tonight, I participated in TC's Twitter chat, hosted by Cornelius Minor. Again, the sense of community was pervasive. Side conversations, requests of "can you tell me more about that?" abounded. One participant actually took the time to create a google form to demonstrate how he uses that to track his conferring! As we started to discuss the use of Seesaw in the classroom, several of us decided to work together to learn the program. These are people I have never met, and may never meet face to face. But we are a community; we have a similar goal.
Earlier today, I attended my first inservice at my new district. After careful contemplation of what to wear (black dress, gray sweater, flip flops) and what to bring (purse large enough for storage, notebook), off I went. Any trepidation I felt was immediately squashed as soon as I entered the room. Everyone was chatting and catching up. Teachers were sitting and visiting across grade levels and curriculums. One of the joys of a small district is that we all fit in the junior high library, making it easy to mingle. I quickly felt that I landed in a new home with a strong sense of community. Administration shared information in a conversational way, with laughter intermingled. There was even a bit of a sing-along!
One of the activities of the day was to fill out a SWOT chart, first on ourselves and then on the district. The immediate transparency and honesty was refreshing. Nobody professed to have it all covered - but there was a clear sense that we have each other's back. That together - administration and staff - we will work to improve.
As I walked out the door with a teammate, commenting on the work that needed to be done before the students started, I felt a strong sense of partnership. Having often felt an island in my previous position, it was great to hear my partner say, "We are in this together. We will figure it out."
I have missed the sense of community - the feeling of acceptance - the feeling of a common goal. It's going to be a good year!