It’s been a year since I was introduced to the principles and practices of Dialogue Education. When I think about the four days I spent at the cozy Stowehof Inn in Vermont during the Foundations of Dialogue Education course, one memory in particular stands out to me. The topic was the teacher as a learner.
When Peter Perkins, our facilitator, made the statement “we as teachers deserve to be changed as a result of the learning events. There’s got to be something in it for us too.” I actually got tears in my eyes. That’s it! I remember thinking. That’s what I’ve been missing! You see, I’m a student at heart. You know the type… makes straight A’s, takes extra credit hours, and attends multiple conferences a year… a real school dork! But, my career had progressed to the point where I was spending hours a week training others. And by “training” I mean standing in front of the room spewing my infamous wisdom to those sitting in the seats. Sure, I was funny and likeable, and included “hands on activities” which people always seemed to enjoy, but let’s face it… I was talking and they were listening. And, we were both suffering as a result. It had gotten to the point where I could have delivered those trainings in my sleep. I was on autopilot and it didn’t matter who was in the seats on a given day, the training was pretty much the same.
Since returning from Vermont, my colleagues and I have embarked on an amazing journey to bring Dialogue Education into our work. We’ve designed and facilitated a number of learning events using these principles and practices and I’ve been changed from each and everyone one of them. I’ve learned so much from the people who have joined me in the various learning events over the last 12 months and I’ve learned about myself too. Sure, it was scary to step off my high horse, take a seat alongside the learners, and open myself up to what they brought to share with me but I’ve found my passion for teaching again. More than anything I’ve learned to model inquiry and a desire to learn. Listen more, talk less, and remember that doubt doesn’t need to be resolved… these are the things I chant to myself during every event. As the facilitator, it’s not my role to convince everyone in the room of my point of view but rather to facilitate respectful dialogue around the expression of doubt so we can all learn from the experience. We are all giving up our time to be in that room and we all deserve to be changed as a result of the learning event. Yes, even the teacher.
What have you learned along the way that has inspired you?
Susie Kantz (email@example.com) lives and works in New Mexico where she designs and facilitates learning events for Early Childhood Educators.