“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” ― John Dewey
There are few times of the school year that feel more hectic than the last few weeks of school. Students can practically smell summer break, testing for the year is finished, report card comments are due, missing assignments and late, last-last-minute work gets turned in. Team meetings feel split with one foot in this year, focused on activities and field day, and another in next year’s class recommendations and more.
It’s really easy to let priorities get out of whack. Things that we know are important slide down the list – family time, fitness, self-care – it can all get pushed aside to attend to the urgency of deadlines and responsibilities.
There’s no need to rehash the ways in which this year has been unusual. But it’s important to consider the notion that experiencing the events of the year does not mean that we’ve learned the lessons that live deep in the folds and shadows of our stories of thriving, surviving, and making it through day to day.
The education philosopher, John Dewey is quoted as saying, “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” He was onto something. Living through the experience requires so many ‘live’ choices, decisions, and inflection points leaving very little time for reflection and examination.
We have been setting aside one night a week on our Collaborates Calls for facilitated reflection and journaling in order to create the time, space, and support for precisely that learning. We do not want to just make it through this experience, we want to get to know the parts of ourselves that are new, and bring some shape to the learning process.
So many times this year we have been faced with the importance and value of relationships – with families, with our students, with one another.
One teacher wrote to themselves, “You covered more meaningful elements of the text in the context of relationships built on trust and caring when you took the time needed to do that. You were able to push them to create more meaningful reports and analyses when they cared about one another, sincerely. Don’t forget how essential relationships are to all of your goals.”
Another wrote, “Don’t forget the power of art! It has the power to heal and create connections. It has the power to get students to open up, and spark dialogue about things that concern them. It has the power to build confidence, expressive students who can think critically.”
Setting an intention to take these things that feel true right now into our planning and dreaming about next school year requires getting these thoughts and ideas into words, reflecting, sharing, and writing them down.
There really is never enough time, so check out the schedule of calls, pick a journaling date that works best for you, and get it on your calendar. If you’re an educator, we hope you join us for one of these sessions, and if you’re not, make a calendar appointment with yourself. Make the time to reflect and ensure that you don’t deny yourself the opportunity to learn.
The Educators’ Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. Created for teachers by teachers in 2016, EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages. EdCo aims to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the essential agency, autonomy, and common ground all teachers share. EdCo is based in Nashville, Tennessee with a reach far beyond that physical location and potential for replication in communities throughout the nation. When educators collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.
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