Columnist David Brooks recently wrote about how we should not simply focus on ourselves but on the “we” that makes us human. After serving as co-leader with Robin Ellis of the Dublin Dallas cohort, I understand more fully what he meant.
For years teachers have worked in isolation, often only leaving their classrooms to visit the restroom or to monitor lunch in the cafeteria. Thankfully, this model is changing, and our teachers from this community proved how valuable the sense of “we” is this year.
The first steps
Initially, some found being in community difficult. We heard talk of time constraints, fear of sharing, and a resistance to writing online where our inner thoughts would be viewed by all. Yet, after a few months, the walls started coming down.
Wth topics ranging from assessment to social media in the classroom, our teachers tackled discussions, hammering out theories and opinions, weighing back in on controversial and not so controversial ideas. In a word, they “shifted.”
Finding their voices

Teacher after teacher talked about the power of community and support in making that happen. And the cool thing is that the group “we” also moved the “I.”Rachel Herlein from Garrison Forest School in Maryland said it best at her culminating ceremony:

Now I’m seen as kind of an expert on that and I recently helped a teacher in another division get one set up last week.   Instead of whining about kids at the lunch table, there is always an interesting article to talk about.  I feel like I have colleagues from around the country and even the world.  I’m learning on a daily basis instead of waiting for the next education conference to roll through town.  I speak with confidence about the profession I am privileged to belong to and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned and learn from those who are willing to share.   The most tangible way PLP has influenced me is that I am pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Administration and Supervision from Johns Hopkins which is delivered online through a partnership with ISTE.  I would NEVER have even considered this opportunity had it not been for the rich experience I gained with my PLP cohort.

Sarah Rodrigues from the Glen Allen D41 in Illinois also found her niche in our group:

I feel so much more connected to other’s in my profession, and I now understand the different means to stay connected.  I realize how easy it is to stay informed and keep growing as a teacher and how to keep my students doing the same.  I feel I became a leader during the process, and I can help others see the value in using 21st century tools in their personal and professional lives.

Robin and I learned so much from our Dublin Dallas teachers, and we are grateful for being along on their journey of becoming a community of learners.

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Susan Carter Morgan

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