I wish to keep a record of my thinking and learning. That’s why I have a writer’s notebook. I (inconsistently) keep a blog to share some of that learning as I am convinced it helps up my game when teaching writing.
My title today comes from a book shared this week on twitter by @ShelfieTalk, two avid readers and educators from NB.
I paused to think of the insights these 19th century women must have shared regarding their world, and was delighted that a) they were compelled to write, and b) their stories were valued and thus, collected and published. It’s important work. Noticing and noting your surroundings requires close attention as you seek to make sense and meaning of your experience.
Since returning from the Dominican Republic last weekend, I know our entire Canadian educator team has reflected on our experience, its successes (team collaboration) and challenges (ant invasion 🐜). Questions linger as well:
- What did we learn about the Dominican context, its culture? And how did we adapt our plans accordingly?
- How could we do better in supporting the teachers, in enhancing their practice?
- Did we connect our teaching to their curriculum in a practical way?
- How do we build partnerships with the teachers there across the year? How can we empower more of them to co-teach with us?
- What impact might this experience have on my teaching in a culturally competent way?
My good friend and mentor Sue Bruyns, a trip leader who has participated in Teacher Mentors Abroad many times, requested our reflections in writing in order to hear our voices, but more importantly to feed forward to future trips. Teachers are notoriously reflective practitioners. I’ve barely made it down the hall at school before I’m scrutinizing my moves and what I could have changed to improve that lesson, that conversation.
This week I devoted a good deal of time to carefully consider and record my impressions, and share some of them via this blog: Key to Community: Learn Their Names, Sounds and Sidewalks Signal a Sense of Place, and Sharing Culture, Sharing Food. The process of making myself stop, think through, and then write to wrestle some clarity out of those ideas has proven valuable to me. It would have been so much easier to just swipe through my photos to relive memorable moments. But I committed to exploring community this summer and writing about it.
Writing about your experience extends a memory’s shelf life not only for your own enjoyment but for parsing out the significant learning that comes to the surface when you write. In some small way I believe that writing helps me to bear witness to my interactions with people’s lives. Sewing together those threads of observations, feelings and questions, I come to a better understanding of what happened. Different perspectives may not come to light when you’re walking the journey but instead appear vividly when you’re looking back on a journey. You learn all over again. When you’re in the moment, you can’t connect the dots.
Cultural sensitivity and competency in teaching, and frankly living, is drawing a lot of attention recently with good reason. Having the extraordinary opportunity to teach, however briefly, in another country deepens my resolve to nurture students’ global awareness and empathy. While I might not yet be able to comprehend the dots I’ve connected to my future, I know this experience, and reflecting on it, will infuse my conversations and curriculum.
I wish to keep a record.