I am so excited to be reading this book, and to be part of my group. However, I must confess that I have only read to page 5 at this point. With the purchase of a new house, the selling of the old and two small boys on my hands, I can barely find time to sit still. Which, leads me to this particular post.
I recently received an email from my colleague wondering how my reading was going. Reading..my goodness..I am supposed to be reading!!! I listed the slew of excuses above and then began feverishly searching for my book. Things are now being tossed in boxes, and I was fearful it would not be found. Luckily it had somehow found its way to the bookshelf.
Her email reminded me of the commitment I had made to the group, as well as to myself. And this made me think of the introduction and some of the things Ritchhart spoke to. Mainly about the importance of a group and surrounding yourself with individuals who push "you to think and advance your thinking".
When I first began teaching I felt like a boat being battered from all sides by the storm of not knowing what to do. I did not know who to turn to and often found myself sitting alone trying to come up with solutions to problems that seemed insurmountable. With the birth of my first child I took two years off, and wasn't sure I wanted to return to the profession.
But, my husband convinced me to give it another go. My first year back was rough, but for the first time I worked daily with another teacher. And, I was fortunate enough that she was an individual who valued the idea of collaboration and thinking. We worked together for an entire year. Through this time she taught me a number of invaluable lessons. However, the most important thing I learned from her was the power of collective thinking. We developed a strong working relationship and she introduced me to others who worked and thought the same way. These individuals became models, mentors and friends. Each day I learned from them how to cultivate my own way of thinking, and how to share and model it too. I cannot speak enough to the importance of this network in helping me grow and become better each day.
These relationships actually shifted my own mindset, and forced me face to my weaknesses and celebrate my strengths. Our conversations can be fierce, and we don't always agree. But, therein lies the strength of the culture.
So the point is....that I don't find it interesting at all that Ritchhart's introduction centers on who you surround yourself with. This is the very foundation that must be laid, but it must be done with care and consideration.
Without my group, I might not even finish this book because life is messy and time is scarce. But I have them to hold me accountable and remind me of how passionate I am about being an educator. They are the spokes to my intellectual wheel.
Questions I have:
- Why does it seem like these types of cultures are created in spite of and outside of the traditional settings?
- If cultures of thinking seem to flourish most when they occur organically, what happens to the nature of them when they become tailored and manipulated by a specific group/individual?
- Is this mindset really a teachable concept or are there spaces in which it will have to be an imposed system, similar to ones we see today in most schools today? Will it be useful then...