Real Community “without one, nothing is”
What follows are some of my thoughts about the Article “Real Community” by Laura Thomas. This is important as I am finishing up a 2 year post graduate diploma program and am thinking about where I go from here and about sharing what I have learned with others.
The author suggests that renewal , both personal and professional, is only possible through reaching out and developing community. It is necessary to leave the protection of the classroom, put yourself out there, and be vulnerable. The only way I can do that is to believe that the people I engage with have the best intentions and “will do the right thing.” But surely we would start to build a community with those of similar minds (‘cause it’s safe) and build from there. Author Laura Thomas invites us to draw from a larger pool. However, she has criteria: “ A “real” community has space for anyone who is coming to it with real interest, with real passion, with real concern,- even if the solutions we envision or outcomes we seek aren’t the same.”
So the members are coming with passion. I can handle that. I tend to approach life with passion and enthusiasm. It’s affirming to see that others see these qualities as important too.
I am learning the importance of having someone to lean on and to seek support from others. Not necessarily people who agree with me but people who want to grow and change and who believe that they can make things better. This is really important to me. I need to believe and continue to hope that education, what I am doing, is an extremely valuable and rewarding profession. I need to believe that we make a difference. Then all of the little stuff that gets in our way diminshes and I can focus on the big picture of helping kids learn how to learn. I am afraid that I tend to shut down around people who see everything as a battle, who are constantly waging war. It’s just too exhausting. I am learning that I am flexible (as long as people are civil and respectful) and willing to change, although some changes are more difficult than others.
“It needs the people that we hope don’t show up”
I think I am this person to many of my colleagues because I don’t sit around waiting for someone else to speak, and although it has gotten me into trouble sometimes (I suffer greatly from foot-in-mouth disease) I can’t see me stopping. It’s more exciting to be in the game than to sit on the sidelines judging (better for your heart as well).
So, ask yourself, ask others “What are you afraid of?” and then give them the time to respond. Thank them for their honesty and really, really listen. I think you will find a shared fear and, at least, a shared vulnerabilty that you can build upon and build a community.