Twelve days ago I sat on my cozy brown leather couch watching a film telling myself I was going to stay awake as long as possible to lengthen my weekend and avoid having to wake up the next morning before I was ready. “What was I thinking signing up for this workshop,” I grumbled.
Fast forward to this morning. While walking into the building, I mentioned to Lauren that I could not believe that the workshop was almost over. Agreeing, she replied that at the same time it feels as if we have been working together for the last six months. She was so right. Walking into the library and getting started for the day felt incredibly normal and comfortable as if I had been doing so all year.
We began the day just like any other, sharing stories and sharing pieces of ourselves. Mariana read from her favorite books starting with a classroom favorite called De Colores and other Latin American Folk Songs by Jose-Luis Orozco which she regularly sings to her students despite her self-described lack of singing talent. By taking risks in front of her students, they feel more comfortable taking risks of their own, she explained. She then shared a favorite of the whole group, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. This book, Mariana explained warms her heart as it did for all of us listening to her read it. She loves it because it reminds her of her own children who are growing up too quickly. La Maravilla by Alfredo Via Jr. and El Conocimiento de Uno Mismo by J. Krishnamurti followed in order to demonstrate, as Mariana says, how “complicated” she is. As is the case with many of us, we find ourselves dwelling on the past or planning for the future rather than experiencing and enjoying the moments we have now. These books are helping Mariana to live in her "now."
The group then transitioned to a reflective activity. With posters labeled north, south, east, and west, we grouped ourselves based on which direction we felt best fit our individual personalities when working in groups such as department or committee meetings. A few of us fell into each category highlighting the importance of balance in any productive group. We reflected as a whole on the importance of understanding our individual work habits and that that understanding along with the knowledge of other personalities can help us work with and lead the myriad of individuals in our buildings.
Then came time to work where we chose to meet with our workshop groups, complete our writing pieces, or continue our inquiry projects. Some of us hurried to finish our Heinemann orders as representatives came to clear the lending library, the soon to be empty shelves a reminder that our time together was limited.
Since she will be unable to join us on our final day, Mariana “published” a piece she has been working on over the last two weeks we have been together. The piece she read highlighted the difficulties of finding the balance between work and home life- an experience we can all agree is a challenge.
Michelle followed by sharing her blog post from Friday reminding us of all the work we have accomplished and the importance of maintaining a sanitary work environment.
We finished the day with additional work time to continue our inquiry projects and personal writing pieces.
Before we left, we completed our exit slip answering the question How can the IWP and our group support you? “Um… Can you guys just follow me around for the entire school year and never leave?” I thought.
As we have said over and over again during this session, we have become a community and as I watch the news and the current state of affairs, I continually think of the oasis of calm our little corner of Whitney Young High School has become. It is an oasis for which I am so glad I signed up.