It’s been a few months since our Communities of Practice group has met – and it dawned on me that after reading this quote how important that group of women – who I probably would never have met otherwise is to me. Let me explain….
I’ve always been one to share my experiences and talk about what was going on in my classroom; just because that’s my personality. I like to hear the activities going on in the four walls outside of my classroom as much as I like to show off what’s inside my own But about two years ago the necessity to talk, share, exchange, and even debate, became much more great. As classrooms across the country, state and region began taking on the task of teaching to the Common Core Learning Standards, many nearby districts decided to implement the NYS modules. As the first to implement these lessons for my grade level in my District, I knew that I needed resources in order to help my colleagues navigate through the module units and lessons. At about this time I attended my first BOCES ELA Forum. I found myself sitting amongst a few other 5th grade teachers from nearby districts and we had an immediate connection.
I now understand that connection. We all understood that we are in ‘this’ together. We understood that education is not this neat little packaged box that is waiting to be unwrapped by the children whom walk in our classrooms each morning. Education (especially the last couple of years) has been messy. Policies are changing, standards are changing, curriculum is changing, and the way teachers teach – must change. This little group that we formed silently understood that. And we kept moving forward. …Someone felt overwhelmed by the new curriculum – we worked together to break down the work and distribute amongst ourselves and take back to our individual district colleagues. If someone found a piece of text or video clip that fit into the curriculum – we shared it. When someone had a problem – we helped trouble shoot for the next time that issue (or one similar to it) rolls around. When someone felt discouraged about the work - we reminded them of all the good. We were ‘real’. We didn’t try to sugar coat anything, but we also always looked for the solutions and the successes we each were experiencing.
Our ‘official’ Communities of Practice meetings are only held four times a year. However, ideas, suggestions, and questions are exchanged much more than those four times a year; thank goodness for email and when our paths cross while shopping at Wegmans!
Being a part of this little society that we’ve created has reminded me that yes – this is challenging work; but it also inspires me! I look forward to catching up with each of them, seeing where they are and what they’ve done for the children in their rooms. After our encounters (those on purpose and those by accident) I feel recharged, energized, and ready to continue the work that we've set out to do.
My challenge to myself and everyone is: “Be polite to everyone, don’t sweat the small stuff, and be positive – it’s contagious.”
Kristina Lewis is a 5th grade teacher in the Lake Shore CSD, a member of the E2CCB ELA Forum and Grades 3-5 Community of Practice.