Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weathering a storm, I mean storms . . .

Today brought with it an afternoon thunder storm that lasted for over an hour.  It made it difficult to work through the noise and the rain in the large tents that we have called home over the last three days, but we persevered and finished the day in a session with our colleagues from Sacramento, Adams 12, Tucson, and Milwaukee.  We shared our work, our needs, and how this loosely coupled collaboration can assist ours and other school systems through the Common Core transition and other significant issues that we face.

The big storm for me, however, was not the weather.  An afternoon activity where we used some of the presencing work to identify the current reality of public education in our country and then shift that through movement into a preferred reality created a much more disturbing storm.  As the activity progressed, I found myself moving from my rational brain into my emotions as I became more and more agitated with how the current reality was playing out.  I added to this by introducing the "Reformers" as a critical player in the activity and articulating their position in opposition to the union and teacher position.  I wanted to share the significant influence that foundations and the reform community is having on policy makers at the local, state, and national level.  In doing so, I contributed to what became a cynical, combative picture so unlike our reality or that of any school system in our area.  Unfortunately, it reinforced the mental model that many have developed by what they read and see in the media.  This was true even for the visitors from other countries.

I am learning that the current reality of the large school systems partnering with us on this journey are at times polar opposite to what we have created.  Some face city control, charters sanctioned by those cities and others that receive public money, poverty, and funding cuts increasing class size, loss of materials, and significant decreases in pay.  It saddens me to see and hear passionate and committed people share these realities and wonder how to move forward.  At times like this afternoon I wonder why I am in the room and what could I possibly do to support their difficult journeys.  We are coming together to support implementation of common core practices in our classrooms, but the needs are much greater than that.

I believe that through this work we can generate collective capacities with the potential to change the structures that currently drive these current realities and that perhaps the experience of our journey can support discovery of new structures and strategies to create a better place for young people and the committed adults that work to meet their many and diverse needs.  This is a worthy journey and one that will yield much new learning and capacity as we continue our Classroom 10 work.

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