More than anything else this weekend, I enjoyed getting to know the students involved with What's the Story. Aside from the three students from my school, I had met them all only once before, at our September kickoff event. Between then and now, I read most of their blogs and acquainted myself with their interests and preliminary research. It felt good this weekend not only to match names with faces, but to spend time working and socializing with the bright young people who make up our group. I particularly enjoyed tossing a disc with some of them outside on the lawn.
I realized this week that, because this is only project's second year and the first year that middle school students are involved, some of what we do necessarily results from a continuously evolving process of monitoring and adjusting in response to our circumstances. I'm also becoming more comfortable with improvisation and its importance to effective teaching. For instance, though I knew in advance that I would be facilitating a couple of our activities together, I wasn't sure about precisely what that would look like until I had arrived and tuned in to the dynamic. I'm also getting to know my colleagues better, and drawing no small amount of inspiration from their dedication and resourcefulness. I'm glad to be a part of the team.
As we move forward, I'm curious to see how the various groups will continue to refine their focus. I'm interested to see how my own students grow through this opportunity, and how they will present their experience to family, friends, and classmates. I wonder, also, how what I learn through What's the Story will change me as an educator.
So far, What's the Story strikes me as embodying the spirit of Bread Loaf. At multiple times throughout the evening and morning I found myself looking around the room, magnetized by the tight clusters of students engaged in deep, meaningful conversation about issues that matter. This project is harnessing the energy of what someone, I think, referred to as the most underused resource in the nation: our youth. Students unanimously commented on the relief they felt in breaking out of the confines of the classroom and moving into the arena of their communities and state, "the real world," where they're free to pursue ideas that motivate them. It would probably not be a bad thing if the future of education in our country looks something like What's the Story.