Have you ever experienced collaborative learning that is so powerful that you will never be the same? I’ve experienced many amazing professional learning opportunities over the years, and while I’ve learned something from each of them, only a few of them have both left an imprint on my heart and reshaped my paradigm- the way I see the world and my profession. Last week, I had the honor and privilege of experiencing this type of learning at Education Reimagined’s Pioneer Lab Training. The purpose of the training was to “ignite and unite learner-centered pioneers,” empowering each other to grow the learner-centered movement. During the training, I had the opportunity to create my context for participating. I had the time and space to reflect on, and invent my purpose. There were dozens of powerful activities that I could write about. Experiences from the training that are still on my mind. I believe this was one of the most powerful for me because had the opportunity to reconnect with my mission.
I’ve had many iterations of my mission statement. I first created my mission statement during my experience with Covey’s 7 Habits Signature Training. This was a bold step for me and all of my colleagues- to declare and share our individual purpose. My mission statement is hanging in the hallway outside of my school area. If you were to walk down the hallway at our school, you would see every staff member’s mission statement in some form. I truly believe that every individual at school thought deeply about their mission statement and we continue to reflect on them when we choose to or are given the opportunity to.
When I got home from Pioneer Lab Training, I chose to continue to explore the idea of context, purpose, and my mission, the “why.” I’ve had Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker’s “Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team” in my Audible wish list for a while. This seemed like, as one of my closest friends and colleagues often says, my “just in time, at the right time” to begin listening. In the forward, Simon Sinek says this: “Fulfillment is a right and not a privilege. Every single one of us is entitled to feel fulfilled by the work we do. To wake up feeling inspired to go to work, to feel safe when we’re there, and to go home with a sense that we contributed to something larger than ourselves.”
I’ve been reflecting on how intentional the designers of Pioneer Lab Training were. Not only were we given time, space, and resources to reflect on and create our context, we also spent a great deal of time deepening our understanding of context, paradigms, and purpose. In order to do meaningful, collaborative work, we first needed to understand and connect with our “why” and each other as human beings. While we can choose to do this independently, I wonder what it would look like if organizations spent more time on this. I wonder how learner agency, relevancy, and relationships might be positively impacted if this was deeply embedded into the school environment. Take Sinek’s statements on fulfillment and change the word “work” to “school.” This is how it would read: “Every single one of us is entitled to feel fulfilled by the work we do. To wake up feeling inspired to go to school, to feel safe when we’re there, and to go home with a sense that we contributed to something larger than ourselves.”
Of course, our learners experience purpose, and what I’m dreaming about goes deeper than a purpose statement for each course. I’m dreaming about giving learners the opportunity to create their context for participation. What an amazing opportunity we all have- to create our context! Each day, we can choose our purpose for participating. I’d love to hear what thoughts you might have about creating these opportunities for learners (adults and kids) in our school settings!
Sinek, S., Mead, D., & Docker, P. (2017). Find your why: a practical guide to discovering purpose for you or your team. NY, NY: Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. Find Your Why @simonsinek @djmead @peterdocker