Reflecting On a Day with the Heinemann Fellows

I have just spent a day feeding my teacher soul.

For two years now I have had the absolute privilege of being a part of the Heinemann Fellows group. Being a part of this group has led me to feel many things. At times my membership in this group has made me feel unqualified, inadequate, and terrified. But today it made me feel inspired, empowered, hopeful and joyful. And I am now certain that I had to go through feeling that first set of emotions in order to feel what I felt today.

Today I sat in a room full of some of the most passionate and motivated educators and I simply basked in their brilliance. In being a part of the conversations taking place. In feeling completely honored to be able to think along with these people. Somehow an entire day flew by without a moment of feeling as if I wished to be somewhere else.

I wish I could capture what happened today. Around that table. In that room. But there was no time to even capture what was taking place because we were all too busy simply being engaged in the moment and being present in it all. And even taking a moment to stop and document what was happening would have felt as if I was missing out on something great.

Today no one needed his or her voice to be any louder than anyone else’s. Today no one needed to convince others that he or she had all the answers. Today no one needed to argue that he or she was right and someone else was wrong. That is not what today was all about.

Today we talked about what it meant to be a child-centered teacher. Today we talked about how to engage in difficult conversations. Today we talked about how to continue feeling successful when we so often feel like failures. Today we talked about the action research that we were doing. Today we talked about our plans for the future of our action research.

And any of those things, on their own, don’t really sound like very much. Except in that room, around that table, there were simply amazing things taking place. Things that gave me so much hope for the future of education. Things that made me feel so proud to be an educator. Things that managed to make me feel that though there is much to be frustrated about and angry about, there is also so much to be hopeful about.

The power of the educators sitting around that table. The power of our stories and our voices. It is no small thing.

And it all made me crave more of this. It made me wonder why this doesn’t happen more often. It made me wonder what would happen if we, as educators, were given more time to do just this. To sit. In a room. Uninterrupted. Uninterrupted by discussions of test scores and new programs to implement and new technologies to learn and new behavior management systems to use. What if we were given time to just sit and discuss the current state of education and the current state of the education taking place inside the classrooms right in front of us? What if we had time to discuss what we wished for our students and what we hoped for our students and what we wanted for our students and how we might possible begin to achieve all of that? What if we were given time to reflect together and discuss together and grow together?

I believe that if we had this time then others would feel what we felt today. And what I felt today is something that I wish, so badly, every educator could get to experience. It is something that I wish, so badly, that I would get to experience more often.

I also believe, that if we were given this kind of time, then we, as a country, would be in a much better place. We, as teachers, would be more willing to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to talk about the parts of our teaching that just don’t feel quite right, to think about the areas where we want to get better. Because when you are a part of a community that has these kinds of conversations, then you cannot help but want to get better. To do better. You cannot help but reach out to others to help you grow.

And that is one of the most powerful things that I am walking away from this day knowing. These are people who have allowed me to feel insecure and then helped me to move on from that place. That these are people who have helped me to grow and it is my students who will benefit from all that this group has given me.

This group of people. These are people who hearts speak the same language as my own. And I am so incredibly grateful to have met them and grown with them and shared with them and learned from them and been inspired by them.



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