Creating A Space
My work with young people locates me in a place full of longing and possibility. I work as a college counselor, and my students often find that the idea of leaving one community for another is fraught with emotion. Some students yearn for a kind of belonging they have yet to experience, while others crave the relief of relative anonymity. But none of them wants to feel alone, I think.
I watch and listen as my students try to imagine themselves into their unknown futures. Sometimes, I edit their questions in my mind. They ask, “What college can I get into?” and I hear, “Do I want to go to college?” The classic “What do I want to be when I grow up?” becomes, “Who do I want to be?” or even, “Do I have to grow up?” But this kind of imaginary cut and paste results only in my altered version of their story, when what they need is the space to create more fully realized version of theirs.
I am heading off to EduCon2.2 this weekend after having missed last year’s gathering due to illness. Several members of my school community attended a Building Learning Communities conference and came back raving about it, but I’m not sure I’ve managed to lure any of them to EduCon2.2.
“Why do you want to go?” someone in my school community asked me with an air of puzzlement. I think they were trying to figure out where I fit into this picture. I am not a classroom teacher. I am not a school leader. My job title does not have the word “technology” in it. Part of my excitement about EduCon stems from a desire to define myself in terms of what I am rather than what I am not.
I say to my students, “You be you.” I ask them, “When are the times you’ve felt most fully alive?” I feel as though in reaching out in search of community, I am listening to my own counsel. I am discovering that I am a member of a school community who also wants to be be an active member of multiple learning communities. Even if I haven’t met a single one of the hundreds of EduCon2.2 attendees prior to this weekend, the lure of that community of learners has been a powerful one for me. Chris Lehmann and the SLA community have worked so hard, not only to share their learning, but to then create a space in which others can share theirs.
So I’m heading down to Philadelphia on Friday, unsure of what to expect and excited by the prospect of happily exploring a space so full of energy and possibility. In actively following the threads of my interest, I am trying to model what reaching out to connect with one’s tribe looks like. And this spring, when a junior I’m working with lets on that he’s both excited and nervous about the prospect of college, I’m going to smile and say, “Can you say a little more about that?”
Trying to open up a space.
thanks to Shelly Blake-Plock
for the work he does to create a space.)