After months of planning, the MfA Summer Think has finally been executed! I enjoyed my time this week at MfA’s first Summer Think conference. One of the things I wrote in February that I hoped for was connecting to more teachers within the community. The icebreaker on the first day was a great start! We had several different prompts and moved around the 17th floor lounge joining groups of teachers that taught in a particular borough, were born in a specific part of the country (or not), taught a specified number of years, and last, had thought of a similar integer (between 1 and 5). This really set the tone for connecting to other teachers and changing up our normal, safe partnerships we have established with our MfA colleagues.
Each daily keynote speaker (Patrick, John and Megan) was inspiring and also offered a glimpse into what makes our profession so complex and yet so rewarding. I think they all successfully articulated how helpful MfA is in progressing our learning and mastery of our craft. I was inspired to be more public about what I do in the classroom as well as consider publishing my thoughts about teaching or the projects I have or am implementing in my classroom. It is so important for all of us to celebrate our successes and not dismiss them as “just what we do”. What we do is awesome, amazing and we should be sure to communicate that to a public that is increasingly distrustful of institutions. including education.
The deep dive I participated in was “Facilitation as Leadership”. I decided to take this deep dive because as a current department coordinator and possible coach for preservice teachers this upcoming year, I would like to learn how to get the most out of groups of teachers in an environment I have helped create where ideas are valued, meetings are meaningful and colleagues feel safe enough to discuss and reflect on sensitive or challenging dilemmas. I could not have been more satisfied with my experience! We explored modeled, and practiced several facilitation protocols, discussed resources and created a safe space within less than a day that allowed several participants to share dilemmas they had come up during their education careers. I felt so comfortable and Alan was excellent at leading this workshop! I honestly felt so elevated by our discussions and debriefs. It is truly an honor to be in this fellowship with people that I am in awe of who by sharing their own learning process help to enhance mine.
I plan to add more about my support sessions, but my lil daughter is starting to climb furniture so for now I just want to say that this experience has been amazing and I am going to carry the ideas and discussions with me as I plan this summer for the next school year!
– Diana Lennon