A year ago I was finishing my graduate program, teaching an elementary school class, and enjoying stimulating conversations with Aaron Eyler on his blog while expanding my professional learning network. One day Aaron asked if I was available to Skype to discuss a new project he and Chad Sansing were thinking about hatching. He wasn’t quite sure the details of the project, just that it would be some sort of collaboration. I could never have known what would be born from that call.
Over the past year I have enjoyed the rigorous discussion on the Co-op. I miss the days of scheduled topics and posting days, as there was a certain spirit and rigor that process contained. However, I could not be more pleased with what the Co-op has evolved into. With more than 50 registered bloggers, nearly 500 posts and 4,000 comments, the Co-op is not only a dynamic place for current conversations, but also has become a repository for some of the best and most honest conversations about education on the web.
Personally, blogging on the co-op has helped me to hone my voice and vision for educational change. The interchange of broad and diverse ideas (even though we may all be “progressive” there is still a wide spectrum within that label) has widened my perspectives and engaged me in issues I would not have known I cared about otherwise. It has also been a great platform to share my ideas and work for sanity. I am a dedicated change-maker, and it is rewarding to share the strategies and stories of my adventures with people who sincerely want to contribute in significant ways, but don’t always know how.
Perhaps most rewarding has been getting to know passionate and brilliant educators all over the world. These are vibrant personal connections through the sharing of honest reflections, hopes, and dreams. Further more, while limited, I have had the joy of working on some collaborative projects with other Co-op members. Even without ever meeting them in person, we have accomplished tasks exemplifying respect and openness in ways seldom found in our “off-line” lives. Whether editing together (thanks Paula) or redesigning the website (thanks David), the manners displayed while still being completely honest provide case studies for what high-functioning learning teams can look like.
Despite “succeeding” in my own traditional school experience, I had little hope for the profession of teaching based on the majority of my personal experiences. Re-entering schools armed with a graduate degree in education (from the greatest progressive school in the world–Goddard College) and greater life experience only made me more furious about what has been and still is happening.
The Co-op has reinvigorated my hope that there is a real chance for an education revolution. For example, hearing Chad’s story of going from a data and test junkie to a fighter for critical consciousness is perhaps one of my brightest moments of realizing there is hope. But also meeting Monika and learning about the Innovation Lab in Colorado, and then more and more amazing people doing small acts in their classrooms that add up to large-scale collective resistance. The revolutionaries are in schools everywhere. I am privileged to now know so many and their stories. And I know there are thousands more. I hope that the Co-op continues to be a beacon for them to come to. I will continue to send messages of sanity out to the world from it.
It is this congregation of human energy for change that most energizes me now. As we have seen with #blog4reform and #blog4nwp there is tremendous potential and power here at the Co-op. The question now is what are we going to do with it?