House of the Spirited but Spent

Nurturing the inner wisdom of teachers through play, silence/introspection, collaboration, sharing and good food.

Photo of Michelle King

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Potential Retreat Name:  House of the Spirited but Spent

I wanted to pitch an idea to the teaching community that I feel resonates with aspirations and vision we are longing for...teacher empowerment.  It's time for us to take back our profession, and remind ourselves and others what we do.  Simply, we do the hard work of building society.  I believe in supporting a teacher retreat that encourages play, rejuvenation, writing, silence, and sharing.  I've been thinking about how to bring a holistic approach to PD based on the premise of we teach who we are. I've done work with Nurturing the Inner Life of Teachers (meditation/mindfulness practices) and I would like to combine it with work that I've done with creating dynamic, learning experiences.


Audience/Potential Participants:  PreK-University educators (We need more teachers talking across disciplines and ages.)


Time:  Weekend Retreat (Friday night-Sunday afternoon or some variation)


Place:  A space in your community that will nurture play, reflection, introspection, community and the free exchange of ideas, aspirations, frustrations, and celebrations.


Potential partners:  Western PA Writing Project, AIU's transformED, Carnegie Science Center, plus the myriad of  Remake Learning members...(This list is Pittsburgh-specific, but it's really about partnering with members of your learning ecosystem.)


Values:  empathy, creativity, collaboration, sharing knowledge, writing, equity, reflection, diversity, sustainability, compassion


Aspirations: 

Rejuvenate teachers

Build a community of educators across geography, schools, age groups, curricular areas...

  • Visualizing connections:  one of the challenges of life moving quickly is our inability to really see how we're connected.  And I believe our greatest suffering comes from the effects of disconnection.  What if were able to see how we were interconnected in our schools, districts, communities, cities, and country.  I'm a huge of visualizing information and I would love for House of the Spirited But Spent to manifest these type of connections:  this example is from visualizing NFL coaches and their influences.  More importantly, it could be a means for visualizing the connections made via The Teacher's Guild!

Connect teachers to Remake Learning Network Bring play back play into learning (This is specific to Pittsburgh.)

Embrace silence

Break bread together (cook and eat together)

Publish teachers' writings and reflections 

Bring a colleague and a stranger to the event and/or recommend someone to attend the next event




23 comments

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Photo of Chris Good
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I love the statement above "We teach who we are". What an amazingly pure take on PD. Simply becoming a better you. Not someone else. Not what some external system wants you to be. Just a more inspired version of yourself - doing what you do best.

Love the idea of mixing educators across disciplines and grade levels. It would be great if this retreat makes this an intentional and deliberate feature for how it is structured?

Michelle King  If you were to step back and imagine this retreat 5 years down the road - and let's assume it was wildly successful - what would you imagine is the most important "Implemented/Tangible" outcome to be born from it?

;-) Super curious to see where this can go!

Photo of Trevor Croghan
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I really like this one.  I used aspects of this idea to inspire my recent post on "reinventing the teacher's lounge".  Thanks!

Photo of Michelle King
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Awesome!  We teachers should be surrounded by beauty.  We cannot divorce ourselves from the internal and external environments that we create. 

Peace and love,

Michelle

Photo of Trevor Croghan
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Right on Michelle King! Agreed.

Photo of Michelle King
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Would you be open to tag teaming to help each other get our ideas off the ground?

Photo of Trevor Croghan
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Yes, absolutely @Michelle King!   I am actually attending an in-person collaboration at IDEO this morning.  Hoping I will come away with some ideas as to how we might do that. I will be in touch.

Photo of Margaret Powers
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Michelle King I'm excited about this idea! I bet Lisa Abel-Palmieri Lisa Palmieri, Ph.D. could help us with ideas about local Pittsburgh resources we could pull on to make it happen locally as a pilot and then we could build out. Want to start a Google Doc together, like Michael suggested, to plan? 

Photo of Michelle King
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Margaret,

Thanks for your continued support.  Could you please send me your email so that you may join our conversation on the Google Doc?

Peace and love,

Michelle

Photo of Margaret Powers
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Hi Michelle! 

You can send the invite to: maggie@teachersguild.org

Looking forward,
Maggie 

Photo of Lisa Abel-Palmieri
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Love Love Love.. I am down to work with this. 

Photo of Michelle King
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Sweetness!!! I'm not sure about the protocols for starting a team.  However, I just started a document with some of the questions that Michael asked me about.  Could you please join us? 

Peace and love,

m.

Photo of Michael Schurr
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Hi Michelle, 

Would you want to work on this idea a bit in a google doc? If so, can you share your email with me at michael@teachersguild.org?   It would be great if you could create a team based off of those who are providing feedback on your idea.  We could invite those individuals into our gdoc to flesh the idea out as a team.

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph
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"It's time for us to take back our profession, and remind ourselves and others what we do. Simply, we do the hard work of building society." YES!! Michelle, I love your contribution and the wisdom around it. I see you're working with Michael on building upon this original idea even more and can't wait to see how you guys are going to push this even further! This is truly fantastic!

Photo of Michelle King
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Elsa,

Thank you for taking time to read over my proposal, and supporting the collective efforts to take back the teaching profession.  We must retell our stories of teaching and learning, and remind outsiders of the intellectual, empathic, and challenging work we educators do daily.

Peace and love,

Michelle

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph
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Hi Michelle, 

Once again, I agree with you one billion percent!! Have you checked out our Medium publication? Our editorial intention for the publication is exactly what you raise, to reframe the narrative about what it means to be a teacher today and to highlight the endless creativity, innovation and empathy that teachers bring to their work every single day! https://medium.com/teachersguild

Thank you! 

Elsa

Photo of Chris Good
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I love this- Storytelling can be so powerful both as a way to share information and experiences - but also in building community. What if every PD event began with something as simple as a time to share stories and commune with each other!  In the linked video there is a great segment about how only 20% of learning during the k-12 years occurs in formal learning spaces.

I would venture that as adults that obviously occurs even less often. So why do we rely on formal PD programs to solve our life-long learning goals?

What if we simply accepted the way we learn best - having inspiring interactions that are unexpected, informal, hands-on, and interpersonal.

This idea of an informal retreat hits many of these themes.

Photo of Sarah Lundy
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Michelle, your title evocatively captures why I'm personally invested in the How Might We questions we've gathered around here.

Many of the insights you've shared in both your "Ideate" and compelling TED Talk parallel with the patient & transformative work undertaken years ago by The Center for Courage & Renewal: http://www.couragerenewal.org/.

If you don't already know of this community, you may very well find kindred "spirited & spent" instigators of learning & professional hostages to widen your circle of learning and growth alongside.   

Photo of Michelle King
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Sarah,

I'm a huge fan of Parker Palmer and believe that "we teach who we are."  And from that position, I believe we can only really effectively make changes in our external worlds when we investigate and reflect on our internal world.  It is from this space of understanding that we can effectively teach and do the hard work of teaching...building society.

Thank you for taking the time to watch my TEDx talk and share your insights with me.

Peace and love,

Michelle

Photo of Margaret Powers
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Michelle,

This sounds wonderful! I have been slowly trying to help bring mindfulness into my school community and your idea sounds like a great way to kickstart more exposure and discovery around that practice, as well as building a meaningful community that focuses on teachers' humanity.

Have you connected with Lisa Palmieri (https://teachersguild.org/profiles/105215756946657596336)? She's also in the area and might have some great connection points to add.

Short "summer camp" experiences for adults (e.g, https://beta.vyrt.com/camp-mars/packages) seem to growing in popularity. I wonder if that is another model we can look to for inspiration when designing the retreat?

One question I am wondering is how much personalization would there be at each retreat to support the unique attendees of each event? For example, one weekend might include a group that really wants to work on team building and another weekend might include teachers who want to become more at peace with technology or finding work-life balance - would the retreat be responsive to those varying wants/needs? If so, how?

Photo of Michael Schurr
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Hi Michelle,

You are in Pittsburgh? Mt. Lebanon? I am originally from da burgh, still have a lot of family there. I would love to help you flesh this idea out as the city of Pittsburgh is near and dear to my heart. I also have a lot of connections to schools in Pittsburgh to assist in building a larger network. Where do you teach?

I love this idea. I also appreciate how thorough and detailed you got for the first post. There is definitely not enough play for educators. When we get a "break" from teaching, we are expected to attend PD sessions. It would be very refreshing and, as you stated, rejuvenating to experience a totally different type of PD. I wonder how this would be pitched to admin. i.e. how do we create buy-in? research? word of mouth? grassroots?

Photo of Michelle King
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Hey Michael!

Thank for reaching out to me and extending Pittsburgh love! I taught in Mt. Lebanon for over 16 years and I'm currently in my 4th year at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh.

I've been thinking for some time about how to create dynamic learning experiences for teachers that were not predicated on a deficit/scarcity mentality. So how might I help to create learning opportunities accepts that everyone has wisdom to offer? And how might I help to create the conditions to support the nurturing of the mind, body and spirit of teachers? Let's bring together play, silence/introspection, collaboration, sharing and good food. My aspiration is to create opportunities for the whole teacher to be involved by doing things for the mind, body, and spirit. I'm intrigued by the brilliance that can be created when we leave space open as opposed to filling every minute of PD to show that something is happening. This is still somewhat in the ideation phase, but I have run workshops for teachers on mindfulness and meditation, and I have created playful, dynamic learning experiences for teachers. Now I want to see about combining them. It is when teachers can have experiential opportunities to learn, then they can see changes within themselves and in their classrooms. I'm also motivated to empower and awaken teachers so that we may take back our profession as emapathic, intellectual leaders/activists/educators.

My initial instinct is to do this out of the domain of schools and on neutral ground. There are plenty of places to support us in Pittsburgh, and I suspect in most cities. One of the biggest challenges is going to be about credibility and applicability. In an era that is at war with our attention, why pick House of the Spirited But Spent? It will be teaching people to re-see the possibilities of how we might create and co-create PD. More importantly, I believe we are longing for a different way to educate and be in society.

Thanks for listening.

Peace and love from da Burgh,

Michelle

Photo of Michael Schurr
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Wow! That is a truly inspirational approach. I would love to see schools embrace the idea of educating the whole TEACHER! Practice what we preach, right?

Would you be interested in fleshing out this idea a bit with me?

A few of the things I would want to consider are the following:

Overview: (What’s this idea about)

Potential For Impact: (Why is this an idea that encourages continued growth and life long learning?)

Value Prop/Pitch: (How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal? Etc)

How’d you get this idea off the ground?

Let me know what you think! Would love to support you with this idea. If you want, we could flesh this out in a google doc? I would just need your email to share a gdoc.

Photo of chris fancher
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I too love this idea and our profession surely could use an infusion of looking at the whole teacher. I like Michael's list of things to consider because I see tons of pushback and "how will this improve test scores?" from school districts I have worked with and for.
Your TEDx talk was inspiring - thank you for being you.