How much more can we do when we are part of a community? How much better can we be when community informs us? I think these two questions are mostly rhetorical for those of us actively engaged in learning communities. But, they are worth exploring nonetheless.
I belong to quite a few communities. Of course, there are the usual: family, church, work. But there are many other communities in my life. I cherish the community of readers that offer book recommendations to me. Likewise, I am thrilled to be a part of a blogging community that is alive and vibrant with ideas. I am part of a community of learners every time I undertake to learn a new skill (and it is a good reminder for me to consider how skills are learned).
This week marks the 50th anniversary of Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (formerly TJCTE and TCTE). I have been a member of this community since the early 1980s and have served as its secretary and as its President. I attend whenever possible. This year, one of my communities is presenting a workshop entitled 50 BOOKS IN 50 MINUTES TO CELEBRATE TCTELA'S 50 YEARS. Donalyn Miller, Cynthia Alaniz, Karin Perry, and I have each taken a 10 year span. We will talk about those touchstone books from each period. Talk about learning as we narrowed down from thousands to hundreds to just 10 books. Agonizing is the word Donalyn used, I think.
This week is also our first graduate seminar for our new students, another community. I am part of three communities with my classes as well. And in the next couple of weeks, another community of learners will form as Karin Perry and I teach READING WITH A CRITICAL EYE, an online course for YALSA.
Facebook and Twitters are communities for me, part of my PLN. There I find ideas, colleagues, comrades, like-minded folks, and even folks who do not think and feel as I do. All of these become part of a community. Some communities are short-term, others last a lifetime. Regardless of number, make up, duration, and other factors, each community supports, encourages, pushes, and moves me to be a better teacher and, I hope, a better person.