Friday, December 7, 2012

The Power of Community

Yesterday I was part of a panel discussion about the future of education.  The session was developed and facilitated by a quest teacher at the middle school and several classes of 7th and 8th graders.  Joining me on the panel was a representative from the Board of Education and two college professors.  The board member had a grandchild in the audience and one of the professors was the parent of an 8th grader.  The students developed an extensive list of challenging and complex questions for the panel to address.  We only had about 80 minutes and just touched a few of the prepared questions.  

It was a fun and engaging experience.  The students were great.  It was evident reading through the questions that they spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the future of school and in particular the impact the Digital Age has had on learning.  Additionally, my co-panelists were enthusiastic about the opportunity and collectively presented a series of genuine responses.  

After the session ended I had a brief conversation with the rep from the Board of Education.  She shared how much fun it was as well.  I shared that we should do more events like this.  She agreed as well.  We started to talk about ways in which we could leverage the power of our community to facilitate exchanges between students and professionals.  We just do not do it enough and it is unfortunate.  So much can be gained from tapping into resources that reside within a school community.  This panel was small example of what can be gained.  We had two parents who are college professors and one had written several books about public policy and education.  Through informal word of mouth the quest teacher was able to connect students interested in education to a professor and author.  

I was glad to be part of the event.  I hope that we can continue to explore these avenues and create vehicles for students to connect with a diverse range of talented adults. More so, this event is what community is about.  People came together who shared similar interests and passions or believed in sharing insights with others.  It involved stakeholders from a wide range of community groups- teachers, students, board members, parents.  The panel discussion reminded me of this definition for community:

Community is a group of people who work with one another building a sense of trust, care, and support
  
That is what yesterday felt like.  Caring people coming together to support each other and help one another grow.