Monday, October 19, 2015

Courtney Krahn's Opening Volley

My name is Courtney Krahn and I am happy to be serving as a mentor on our WTS 2.0 team. When I first graduated from college, I worked for the U.S. Senate.  Being young and inexperienced, I was shocked to learn that, in government, change didn't come as quickly as I imagined it would or in the way I thought it should.  I decided to move into the classroom, where I was delighted to find unending amounts of change and excitement -- every day! Teaching inspired me to attend The Bread Loaf School of English, from which I earned my M.A. in 2009.  In the last decade (or so), I have taught every grade level 7-12, at both private and public institutions in, chronologically, Randolph, VT; Milwaukee, WI; Townshend, VT; and now, in Middlebury, VT at Middlebury Union Middle School, where I currently teach 8th grade. 

I'm new to WTS this year, and so far I've found the project to be nothing but enjoyable and impressive.  I was impressed at our kickoff by the students, who took each moment in stride.  They were flexible, polite and HAPPY!  On kickoff day I felt and saw boundaries break down: teachers went by first names; students became teachers, and teachers became students again; there was no "front of the room," chalkboard, intercom or bell system.  We were all just there.  

And then there was this other really cool thing that happened, which might also be one of my Ah-Ha moments:  I realized that I was sitting in a room with Emily, who started teaching at CVU in Hinesburg, VT the year I was a freshman there.  Also in the room were two other CVU alum, Colleen and Sean, both of whom grew up down the road from me, yet both of whom I'd never met or at least didn't recognize (OK, well, I had met Colleen the month before at a BLTN meeting).   Also in the room was Bill Rich, who ran professional development at Randolph High School the year I first began teaching, and who ran it again at MUMS, when I started there. Also in the room were two of my former students, Brynna and Brennan,  and two of my current students, Shoshana and Emily. Suddenly, I was realizing that this network of teachers and students, with its organically deep and local connections, held a startling poignancy for me, both personally and professionally.  

Two more Ah-Has:
1) Many of the issues that consume my frequent thinking also worry the students of Vermont.
2) The occasional escape from the physical and emotional barriers of The Institution is liberating on many levels. 

Some wonders:
1) If this project were to continue for 20 more years, what would WTS 20 look like in the year 2035?  Who would be there?  What faces would be familiar?

2) What are students getting from this project?  I know what I think they they are getting, but I'd love to hear them articulate what it is they've learned -- either in terms of content or skills -- in the last month or so. 

3) How can I help Shoshana and Emily apply the skills we're working on at school to their WTS projects?  Should I be helping them more than I am?

One comment:
I felt a legitimate pang of emptiness this week when I realized that I had nothing new to read from my bloggers, who are digging up fascinating information about school consolidation and biker safety in Vermont. 

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