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Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Educational Community

My family is on the process of moving currently. The timing is terribly unfortunate. Last year, my son was born on the first day of school. This year we move during the second week of school.... Or that was what was supposed to happen.
My colleagues have been very supportive of me during this time, as have parents and students. But it wasn't until yesterday, when the closing of our housing purchase went horribly wrong, that my wife and I realized how wonderful our community is.
We weren't able to close on our house and are living in a hotel for at least a few days. In the grand scheme of things this is our problem and no one else's, but the outpouring of support, particularly from the school I work has been lovely. It has given me pause, and I'd like to take a minute to talk about a few things it has made me consider.
Being part of a successful community based in education should mean a couple of things.

1) it is based around family, specifically children.

This may seem like a given, but I went to boarding school and so believed that I lived free of family. However, that was a clear misunderstanding on my part. The school was my family. The families at my current school are units in and of themselves certainly, but the village that raises your child is more than a village, it is an extension of family.

2) it is supportive when things go awry.

The most successful learning experiences I ever had, and the most fruitful I have observed are born in the unexpected, the accidental, and the plain dead wrong. More specifically, our reactions to what is unexpected, our reactions to adversity are immensely powerful learning tools. Things rarely happen as planned. This move certainly didn't, and the school community has been very ready to respond. Just as it should when mistakes are made in the classroom.

3) it is inclusive and inviting.

No one ever wanted to learn from someone who didn't reach out. And no one wants to join a community that doesn't open it's arms.

Today I feel very lucky. We have been welcomed not only with open arms, but with a reactiveness born from the understanding that things go wrong, and with the love and care that can only come from a community that's holds family at the center of it's core values. Our students are more successful for it, and so are our faculty.

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