#SOL15: Day 31, Community is a Non-Negotiable

I sit at gate 38 waiting for my flight back to Los Angeles.

Coming here, I felt guilty.

In my mind, I tried to justify it by adding up the learning I’d attain and see if it balanced out with the money I’d spend.

I knew my desire to go was as much about being with the educators sitting beside me as learning from the educators who stood in front of me.

And I did gain knowledge, tangible strategies I can use tomorrow with students. But, I got something else which has changed my construct as to what professional development is.

The presenters were the focal point and clearly inspirational. They were the reason we came. 

But — 

This weekend I realized the importance of community. A community that is passionate and committed, that rallies around core beliefs, that shares struggles and a strong faith in humanity may matter more than any presenter’s research, idea, strategy, or book.

While  professional development with specific learning goals in mind is clearly necessary, our learning opportunities must include the development of and participation in a community of shared purpose and belief.

No matter what the standards, no matter the mandates, no matter the strategies and practices your school has in place, no matter the technology, no matter the environment, no matter the financial support. What matters most are the core beliefs built and sustained within a community of learners. Without this, nothing else matters.

There was something very powerful about meeting in Riverside Church. We came to listen and commune in our shared beliefs in literacy and humanity. We came because we believe that literacy is a necessity for our continued existence. That literacy is non-negotiable. And that no matter what, what we do is essential.

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This is why I came to Riverside Church to be with my community that sustains me in a job that is difficult and often defeating but essential.

Without the TCRWP community, the community of bloggers and tweeters, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this, ready to go back to a classroom of learners with a renewed sense of purpose. Profession development needs to be seen as more than just learning how to do something. It also has to be about becoming a part of something.

Thank you, Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey, and Tara for building and sustaining the powerful blogging community of Two Writing Teachers. Read more slices here.

16 thoughts on “#SOL15: Day 31, Community is a Non-Negotiable

  1. Community of kindred minds creates so many learning opportunities for all involved. Where would anyone be without the support of those around us when we begin to falter or doubt our value? This community has stretched me to limits I never thought were within my reach. The people of this community make me want to be a better version of myself. So yes, this is the best place to read, to write, to be. You are awesome!

    • “A community that is passionate and committed, that rallies around core beliefs, that shares struggles and a strong faith in humanity may matter more than any presenter’s research, idea, strategy, or book.” Julieanne this post is so important to how we view our professional learning. What profound truths you espouse here. I’m having this huge AHA alongside you and also validation and confirmation of something I know but hadn’t known o know yet. You called it out, GF.
      This too, ” Profession development needs to be seen as more than just learning how to do something. It also has to be about becoming a part of something.” Nailed it. Thank you for naming this critical feeding and growing ground for the real work we do each day. And thank you for always professionally developing me in my community of learners.

  2. This is the missing link in many funding appeals for PD. We forget that it’s not just about the presenters or the presentation. It’s much about being with others who think and share and connect with each other and hold each other up in this world. Thanks for recognizing this important component.

  3. What an inspirational post! You are so right when you say “A community that is passionate and committed, that rallies around core beliefs, that shares struggles and a strong faith in humanity may matter more than any presenter’s research, idea, strategy, or book.” I believe one of the greatest benefits of social networking is the ability to connect with such communities even if you are not physically a part of one.

  4. There was something very powerful about meeting in Riverside Church. We came to listen and commune in our shared beliefs in literacy and humanity. We came because we believe that literacy is a necessity for our continued existence. That literacy is non-negotiable. And that no matter what, what we do is essential.
    Love that insight. I think this is why people feel transformed when they join a writing project. Community becomes something tangible and real.
    So good to be writing with you,
    Bonnie

  5. I’ve had lots of thoughts swirling in my brain today and I see some of them here. “Community. Renewed sense of purpose. Being part of something!” LOVE these words Julieanne! I’m so grateful that you are in my community. I feel blessed and grateful for you and the bloggers out there!

  6. If community doesn’t happen a person really can get stuck. It is what moves us forward as a people group. It is so amazing that our community has developed across miles…just through the written word. I am so blessed. xo nanc

  7. “Professional development needs to be seen as more than just learning how to do something. It also has to be about becoming a part of something.” What powerful truths you speak! Never having been part of the Teachers College community, I can only look upon your meetings with envy, but I love this writing community! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  8. I am looking forward very much to the All-Write Conference in June, to “be” with some of these bloggers again (my third year). I understand you going, Julieanne. The connections made are powerful. I hope we get to meet sometime! Glad you’re going to join us in April!

  9. […] I remember exactly when I decided I had a goal of reaching 500 Twitter followers. It was a number of months ago. I witnessed my friend, Julieanne Harmatz, gain her 1,000th follower. (She’s now up to almost 1,500.) I watched Julieanne’s joy at that 1,000th. I thought it both fun and representative of the community she has found on Twitter. She connected with real people out in the world who add support for the very important work she does each day in her classroom. She wrote recently about that community here. […]

  10. Julieanne,
    You craft a community in your classroom so that your students are all included. As adults we sometimes forget the need to “fuel up” with our own communiities – #TCRWP, school, workmates, chatmates, and “Teaching Point” mates. So important for us to grow and nurture our own learning communities!

  11. You are absolutely right, Julieanne! Being part of “a community of shared purpose and belief” is the only way we can persevere in the face of all the challenges we’re facing these days. I’m so grateful to be part of this community with you. Your insights and wisdom help me be a better teacher!

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