Reflective Renewal

finding meaning and inspiration in children's literature

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Understanding & collaboration found in Where the Wild Things Are

November 9th, 2009 by christine · No Comments · Creativity

As teachers, do you ever feel misunderstood and yearn for a school where you share a common vision and can easily collaborate with others?  Well, you are not alone.  I often feel that way.

WildThingsI couldn’t help but think of those same, vulnerable feelings when I re-read Maurice Sendak’s 1963 picture book Where the Wild Things Are in anticipation of the newly released film version of the book.  Max felt misunderstood.  He was perceived as naughty.  He longed to be in community with others who understood him.  Max didn’t want to be alone.  As a teacher and teacher educator, I have frequently felt this way.

Reflection often happens in isolation.  In our busy lives, the only time we have to reflect is within the walls of our own minds or classrooms.  While this is an important step in professional growth, it should by no means be the final step. We need to talk to others about our experiences.  It’s an important part of our growth and of our identities.  “We not only learn from others–we learn from ourselves by talking and interacting with others. When the process of reflection involves others, we enhance our ability to determine and to shape our own educational philosophies, instruction, and responsibilities to students’ growth” (Woodcock, 2004).  

Our understandings become more real and clearer as teachers speak about them to each other. As this process involves the close scrutiny of personal beliefs, an atmosphere of trust is essential for meaningful, collaborative reflection to happen. We need to stay openminded, responsible, and wholehearted in order to foster the trusting environment that encourages collaborative reflection. As we reflect by writing and speaking with others, we are led to question and revisit our teaching from different perspectives.

Like Max, we need not be alone.  We need not feel misunderstood.  Don’t allow yourself to feel “naughty” for feeling the way you do.  Your feelings are valid.  You deserve to be in a community of trusted, like-minded others.  Trust me, there is no perfect school.  I tried traveling around the country to look!  Like Max, I ended up right back at home where I started.  Instead, now I rely on my various support networks to listen and to provide insights.  Allow yourself to do the same.

To all of you readers out there– Where/who are your support networks?  How do you avoid isolation?  How can we and others help?

If you’d like to read more about collaboration and reflection, I published a brief article in 2004 entitled “How Does Collaborative Reflection Play a Role in a Teacher Researcher’s Beliefs About Herself and Her Teaching?: Discovering the Power of Relationships” that was published in The Journal of Natural Inquiry & Reflective Practice.

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