My worlds collided this morning when Michael Wesch, who was speaking at the University of Mary Washington Faculty Academy, referenced three different people from random areas and interests of my life.
I had spent almost all night awake, chatting in Elluminate rooms with @snbeach , @willrich45 and our fabulous teams from Australia (4 and 8pm their time, 2am and 6am our time). We had tackled issues that challenged our thinking; we probed ways to be open learners who could truly change systemic problems. As we closed, I felt satisfied and energized at the same time.
I finished up this morning with minutes to spare and headed over to UMW to hear Wesch’s keynote. Sitting among Twitter friends and UMW professors who are working through many of the same concerns kept me thinking of our conversations hours earlier.
And then Wesch spoke.
I was excited as I’d only heard him on Youtube and ustream. As I watched my rock star, his message of turning knowledgeable students into knowledge-able students who can create, collaborate, and learn filled me with hope about what is possible for all of us.
Though I was a little sleepy (I don’t function too well on only three hours), my brain was processing, thinking, and planning as Wesch talked.
And then the collision. Someone asked about the difficulties in shifting not only our own practice but our students’ way of thinking about learning, and Wesch pointed to Shelley Wright, one of Powerful Learning Practice’s teachers, who reflects so candidly on her blog. I sat up and poked my friend in the ribs:
“She’s a PLPer!” I exclaimed.
And a few minutes later, when Wesch was asked by one of the professors about how to begin this sometimes difficult process, he spoke of love and care for our students.
“This isn’t practical advice,” he said. “Brene Brown writes of vulnerability, and I believe it may be the key to what we need to focus on in our classrooms.” Brene Brown? I love Brene Brown. But she’s in my “life” RSS feed, not my education feed.
And finally he spoke of Parker Palmer, who wrote The Courage to Teach. I’d first been exposed to Palmer in Sunday School classes. He once said, “If we want to teach well, we must learn more about the human dimensions of our craft-about the inward sources of our teaching, about the claims it makes on our lives, about our relations with our students, about a teacher’s wounds and powers.”
The message of the morning seemed simple at that point.
Be open and share with others, put the students’ needs first in all we do, and create classes that allow us all to be more vulnerable.
And it’s what the PLP team uses as its guiding principles. As Wesch finished, I felt proud to be associated with an organization that gets it.