A month ago, during two different, beautiful learning teams with educators, nestled deeply in the Indigenous Learning Model, we felt something change. It started as a quiet nudge and gained steam between our two brains. If we were going to deep dive into something then we needed a truly important voice. We asked Colinda Clyne to join us for a conversation. She graciously and generously did and blog 9 was published. At the same time, Stephen Hurley confirmed our conversation on his podcast for VoiceEd radio. We met in Zencaster on a Sunday morning. It was a lively conversation and he us asked about our process, the how and the who and the dotted line to the publish button. We were talking about stories when Stephen pushed the nudge slightly harder and it became a full blown “hold on a damn second.” Andrea and I were sharing headphones and sharing a dangling microphone for the podcast and we managed to look at each other. We with spoke with Stephen of what was missing, the dilemma of how to entice people to join the conversation and how few people actually comment in the box beneath.
We know that people read our blog and connect to different parts of it and it takes them back to a place. Our friend Vivian wrote, “When I read The Beast, I do listen differently. To the spaces between the words, back to the conversations that I didn’t pay close enough attention to, and toward the purpose in our work…the impact of what we do now on children three generations away.”
We feel the same way, the blog, the conversations during and afterwards take us to a new place where we listen differently to the same thing and because we have changed, so does what we hear. We know The Beast has created a space for us to be aware of these magical moments – when we learn. The human factor is the why.
This has rolled around within us for the last week. Blog 10 seemed like the exact spot to gut check all of it. We reread, well I reread and Andrea reread and created a sketch note which was an incredible road map. She texted me and said, “this is our thinking from all 9 and yesterday bumped up against Carlina. I’m going back in with Allan, Vivian and Lynn to find what’s frustrating and left unanswered.”
I love this about her, a quiet, tiny pit bull who will seek like a missile and hover so gently over the thinking as she makes sense of it. I stomp and crash around while mostly tripping and send texts of my impulsive thinking while I make meaning…we are still terribly unlikely but we need each other’s brain and mess.
We came to the need for the conversation below…Lynn Crawford-Beare, made us think over and over when she wrote this, “I keep going back to the power our words, actions, stances affect those around us and how integral they are to learning.” Lynn also reflected on feedback by sharing with us, “feedback is critical for learning when the shape the words and delivery feedback takes, considers the learner receiving it.”
If we want the backsy forthsy where we have invited people in to join the conversation, we better figure out the space between for it to happen. The stories of others matter in the learning. Listening to them, reading them and being changed by them. Colinda spoke of listening to Elders, “I think about sitting with the same knowledge keepers, Elders, over and over. They will often say much of the same. And I am in a different space each time I hear, something different resonates for me, I see something in a new way. And then, sometimes, some great synchronicity brings everything together.”
A: A lot of spirals since #1 – which was about spirals.
K: When you sent me the sketchnote I had finished rereading our first 9 blogs and was sitting with my computer open looking at the “draft plans” from the Christmas holidays – that freezing day in the Starbucks with no heat…I thought about how I had been changed and wondered about the human factor – the who – the why was still The Beast and Learning but the who just came back and whacked me on the head. If I had not gone back and read them again from that lens I’m not sure the sketchnote above would have felt like it did when I looked closely at it.
A: It’s you and me and Carlina. You are thinking of more people and more stories?
K: Before I considered another story I felt like we had to go back to where we had been. The blogs feel different now. I read our conversations and know we have had a hundred since but somehow they felt different too. I am trying to figure out why… While reading I remembered different details that somehow seem significant to the stories that had already been told.
A: I did too. That’s why I listened to them – so that I could let those extra thoughts and changes in my thinking in. I mostly thought about those changes and what The Beast has become.
K: I remember you saying the words spiral back around in a planning meeting – perhaps early this year or late last year. I am not sure I understood it until after our first blog post. We were standing in a learning team, then sitting in a planning meeting and perhaps somewhere else and everything around us, the words and the humans seem to spiral back to The Beast. I could barely think about blog two as I was so overwhelmed by blog one and my thinking…I couldn’t help wanting to know was it because we had put it out there, or talked about it for so long, the story, The Beast was alive and I saw it everywhere.
A: The spiral is Troy’s patience, Lucy West, and now Colinda. It’s practice, motivation, and noticing change. The change is in your heart and in your unconscious beliefs. Not just because you think it or say that it’s true. The spiral is learning. I think we’ve figured out that sharing our learning in The Beast and telling stories creates a space between. It pulls people in to become part of that learning. Our learning has to be shared with others in order to exist.
K: I’m not sure I understood this. When we co-constructed the success criteria for critical thinking with educators – some of the details – I look for evidence to clarify my thinking, I try to make sense of complex ideas, I tell myself it’s ok not to know everything – it was never about confirming my thinking nor finally having an answer. When we spoke at 5 am on Monday mornings I was not looking for the final answer – in fact, when it hit 6:30 and it was time to make lunches I was often not quite ready to let it go…I then found myself seeking during the day and bringing that conversation with me. Not to be put away as I had confirmed nothing.
A: If it were confirmed, then it would be over. We might as well just have Googled it. The work in progress feels right to us. It’s our responsibility to each other – almost how we care for each other.
K: It is the part of our learning that has given me the most pause – if I have this need, this craving to learn with this human being and I have never learned like this before – the care that we take with each other, the thinking and the nudging (your patience LOL), your slowing down so I can catch up and then us messy and frantic in The Beast – how do we explain it? How do we share it? How do we never let it go? How can we make more space?
A: You stump me with How questions. What’s missing for you? Are you thinking about spread and sustainability? The process itself is the magic. Think about the way a story comes to you. You create space within it for me and everyone else to make meaning.
K: I love how you just stopped me cold – I read your words over and over as you were typing them and took a snip it – the how questions are purely selfish.
The documentation of the Beast – the messy and the doing of our day jobs and the human factor that are the stories – the why… I have no doubt about the why… I am wondering how we might find other stories that could be told to us in the space we create in between – not as a comment at the end but as a sit beside.
A: Discourse. We need more humans.
K: I am wondering if it goes back to your questions above – What’s missing for you? Are you thinking about spread and sustainability? The process itself is the magic. Think about the way a story comes to you. You create space within it for me and everyone else to make meaning.
We have had several people ask about our writing process – the how we do it? We explain it and the why… ironically as we are answering the questions we somehow know that change is coming and we need something more – the word NEED also keeps coming up. We have talked about why people do not comment at the end in the big comment box and we spiraled back to exit cards and students answering comprehension questions at the end of reading – they don’t work because it’s over. How can we make real space? Does meaning happen at the end or during?
A: This doc is shareable. We can actually put spaces in. We can pull more people into those spaces. Diversity will cause bumping and circling and taking care of each other.
K: We need their stories – the moment when you are listening to a story and think of one to tell right after and when you are telling it, you know you missed something juicy and it occurs to you…the heal you feel when you sit with your friends and fill it to the rim when you recount and re-calibrate…and because it’s documented…Carlina brings you home – you make sense of you and the learning. The circling creates more space between – the linger happens. The process itself is the magic. The work in progress feels right to us. Your words…the during
A: The space is flat, messy and uncertain. Uncertain but safe. Everyone in the circle needs. They need to share their theories and what lies behind their beliefs. It’s a collective responsibility to always stay in the during.