L'Instant du Mentorat
My mind is racing with new ideas, self-reflection and networking possibilities. But best of all, I am infused with a positive sense of peace in the world because of the energy, hope, creativity and drive that is TLLP! Thank you so much to all the organizers from OTF and the Ministry who make this venture possible. You support us unconditionally (funding for out of country conferences excepted:) and mentor us skillfully through our personal and collaborative learning journeys. Thank you to all the participants for being SO inspiring!
Some of the highlights of the conference for me were:
1) Seeing students are at the centre, in control of their own learning. There were an amazing number of projects that were involving students as co-researchers. It excited me to see we are using the TLLP model of learning with our students. Wouldn't it be fabulous to co-ordinate a TLLP kid conference where the students could explain the projects they were involved in and how what they did improved their learning! Hmmm…
2) Accessing the ideas of so many while feeling I did not have to be the expert in that topic. I know I can contact these people through the ning or the email contacts I gathered. It might also be possible for me to ask for funding to have some of those people visit my school or board to help facilitate our learning.
3) Benefitting from the mistakes others have made. I saw many projects out there where they did the grunt work of trialing different apps or strategies to see which ones worked and which did not. Thank you! That saves me time. Please get your awesome work up on the ning and the TeachOntario site so more people can learn from your process.
4) Reframing. The speakers lifted our eyes from our local contexts to more provincial, national and global perspectives. Really niggling in my brain is the idea Andy Hargreaves introduced about sharing our ideas, giving them away so we have to come up with new ones. The encouragement from Andy and the TLLP organizers to work between schools and across boards has got me thinking.
5) Be Zen with problems, conflict, things that bother you. Andy spoke about something that is dear to my heart. That is the idea of going towards the things that are not working because those are the places where you can make a difference. I relate this way of being to the Zen philosophy of welcoming negative thought, embracing it and asking it questions to get at the root of the problem. Tara Brach describes the personal process with the acronym RAIN. You could replace the 'inner experience' with the inner experience you are feeling as a result of an external issue, a place where either your practice or a system you are involved with is counter to what you value (what Whitehead, 1989 called a living contradiction).
When we can learn to recognize what is happening and the response it generates in us, allow it to exist without minimizing, shutting it out or letting it overwhelm us, then investigate the conflict with kindness we get to an open state of being with the situation which frees us to welcome solutions. It is one of those counterintuitive situations that Andy was talking about: acceptance leads freedom. Neurologically, if you can get your mind out of the cyclical negative thought cycle which keeps your mind suppressing higher order thinking, you are free to engage your executive functioning and actually problem solve. For a description of this see the UK Mental Health Association Podcast ‘What is Mindfulness’ (http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts/).
6) Being reminded that wellness is an essential part of the equation. So, I am now going to go get some exercise, play with my kids and have a nap!