From Plunging to Pedagogy

teamPlace 9 female educators on a plane, headed  for the Dominican Republic to lead a  conference, for a week of complete  togetherness and watch what happens…..

Other than an initial meeting in January and  a brief planning session in March, I had no concept of what a week in the DR with 8 other strangers would entail, nor had I had a chance to get to know any of my travel companions. We had been well prepped with packing lists, an agenda for our stay and my teaching partner was a returning teacher, so I had peppered her with a variety of questions.  But like most life altering experiences, until you live it, you have no idea what is in store.

I’m not sure that you could have selected a more diverse team of educators ~ we ranged in age, marital status, years of teaching, family status, socio-economic status, ethnic backgrounds, job descriptions and above all else personalities. Each one of us had a unique reason for being on this trip and the more time we spent together, the more time we spent sharing our backstories and the journeys that brought us together.  I was in awe at the openness in which conversations occurred about children, parents and partners.  For relative strangers, some deep rooted emotions were brought to the surface in a relatively short time of being together.

To say that we were in close quarters, is an understatement and we very quickly became comfortable with sharing cramped spaces on a van, close mattresses in our large bedrooms, meals in various locations and of course a bathroom.  6 of us were in one room, sharing one bathroom and we didn’t have one issue ~ we all became adept at unclogging our toilet (due to very limited water) and the open door policy was quickly initiated.

But for all of our differences, we shared a passion for our work. Not only the work that we were doing in the DR, but our work at home. I loved hearing about how other boards deal with various scenarios and spent many hours listening to the stories of the other administrators as they shared the work that they are doing in their schools and the various levels of support from senior administration. They shared hiring practices, resource allocation, policies and procedures.  We talked for hours about supporting new teachers, supporting LTOs, pedagogical practices and supporting the needs of our students with special needs. For our younger team members, it was interesting listening to their perspective, not only on teaching, but about being young women who are so dedicated to such a cause.

At one point in our week, we had the opportunity to visit Nancy’s sister, Lucy!  As I’ve shared earlier, Nancy is the founder of TMA and her life story is one that needs to be made into a movie.  But her sister, Lucy, started the first preschool in Santa Domingo and to hear her challenges and successes, reminded me of our own Rose Walton, who also has such intense passion for early childhood learning.  I can just imagine the two of them sitting together sharing their philosophies and implementation strategies.

It became apparent that the strength in our team was indeed our diversity and how we managed to use that diversity to our advantage.

When choosing members of teams, do you purposefully look to create a diverse team?

Come write with me….

3 thoughts on “From Plunging to Pedagogy

  1. Sue,

    Reading your description of the group coming together really made me think about the team of SWS teachers I will be working with in the fall. We could not be more different, yet after just a few meetings it feels like we have known each other and worked together for years!
    Diveristy of life, experiences and passions is a great asset to a team. It allows for approaching a common goal from many angles and perspectives. It deepens coversations and connections and having a few “challenging” voices is always good to push thinking and learning forward!
    Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  2. So you leveraged the group’s diversity into success. I was thinking about the conditions,either because of or despite….We typically require amenable or safe conditions to share passions and admissions. Interesting how in such a short time span and in a foreign setting, this was achieved. Speaks to the commitment on everyone’s part to be open to the learning.

  3. Loved reading about your work in DR. I wonder if there might be an opportunity for your team to share their experiences with our Learning Support Services staff. Think of the possibilities…

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