By Aleta Margolis, Founder and President, Center for Inspired Teaching
Hooray for Monday is a new blog series we’ll be posting each week with questions, ideas, reflections, and actions we can all take to remodel the school experience for students.
Martha Graham, the mother of modern dance, spoke of “divine dissatisfaction” to describe the experience of creation and growth. As I understand it, dissatisfaction means that learning and creating are never finished, there is always more to do; and divine means there is joy in the quest for continuous improvement.
Since school began, a week or two ago for most of us, we have navigated remote, in-person, and hybrid learning with a wide variety of results. I’ve heard stories from teachers and school leaders about a day that took until 11:50 for classes to get online, only to break for lunch ten minutes later; students finding themselves alone in breakout rooms unable to return to the group discussion; and online orientations where none of the teachers’ links would work. I’ve also heard about joyful student and teacher reunions, schools distributing supply kits to families’ homes, and innovative gym classes springing up in living rooms.
At Inspired Teaching, this week marked our first Speak Truth seminar of the school year. With more than 100 students registered, it was our largest session since we went virtual this spring. Despite rehearsals with student-facilitators, instructors, and staff, we had our share of videos that wouldn’t play, glitchy internet connections, and the like. Even so, the students engaged in powerful discussions about this week’s topic: ending police brutality. They offered thoughtful and well-researched questions and arguments including why police officers should see themselves as both law enforcement officials and civilians, the societal implications of the culture in which police are trained, the importance of establishing police brutality as a crime, and the need for a national database for reprimanded police officers. After all this incredible learning took place, we gathered as staff to talk about what we could do to make the next session better.
Like our teaching colleagues, we’re doing our best to accept missteps with grace and humor, while simultaneously working to improve. And we’re celebrating the learning and growth along the way.
Even though school has only been in session for a short time, or will begin for the first time for many tomorrow, many teachers and school leaders are already over-extended, not only from teaching these past few weeks, but also from the weeks and months of planning for a school year filled with uncertainty. Before we dive headfirst into a new school week, we have an opportunity to pause and refuel on this Labor Day.
Martha Graham’s ‘divine dissatisfaction’ can guide our reflection and remind us that, as professional learners, we can find joy in our progress while acknowledging we have more to learn.
Wishing you a restful day and a joyful week ahead,