I often wonder what is being “developed” in the traditional professional development served up to educators. My experience has been that most of these courses mainly seek to encourage and develop skills. Experience has also shown that it’s not my skills that necessarily need developed. In fact, I often find most rewarding those experience which develop me as a person, towards my own human growth path. I appreciate sessions that somehow get through to my soul as a teacher, that strike to the heart of my decision to live a life as a mentor and teacher to others.
A couple of months ago I put out a call very similar to this one. In it, I asked my PLN to consider joining me in what then seemed to be a crazy experiment in professional development. I asked whoever would be willing to enroll in a furniture design course at soulcraft Woodshop, and promised that something magical would come out of our shared learning experience as petrified novices. None of us had ever built anything made of wood before. Few, if any of us, even understood how to work the machines and tools. But we did it.
There were six of us in the first #soulco cohort. We were asked to show up with a small-to-medium sized project to work on . Julie, Tom, and Karen each chose to make a table. I made a boombox. Morgan somehow wound up with a beautiful wall shelf from her original shoe organizer design. Vicki made a beautiful headboard. Jeremy took the long road, and chose to slowly master a smaller project using complex joinery, and we all can’t wait until he gets good enough to make the standing desk he envisions for his office.
We learned so much about woodworking, but even more about teaching. In learning design via our projects, we found new insights on lesson planning. In our efforts to share both thoughts and progress, we took to social media and became bloggers, tweeters, and facebook friends. We sat around coffee before, after, and during the time in the shop swapping ideas about how best to serve students, how hard it is to do what we do, and how inspiring it is to work with other people as driven as we are to do all we can to move the ball forward in education. Lastly, and most importantly, we became friends and better people because of our work together.
Now we’re excited to invite more people to join our cohort. We would love to get 6-8 teachers together on either Saturday mornings or Tuesday evenings to design, learn, and grow together. This Saturday, December 20th at 9 am, we would like to hold an open house at soulcraft Woodshop for anyone interested in becoming a better professional by tapping into our natural tendencies to create, design, and reflect as a learning process. On Saturday we’ll give a tour of the shop and provide a host of specifics regarding the work we’ll begin on January 3 and January 6th.
Show up. It’ll be awesome.