Community & Connection Spiral
We live in a spiral galaxy. Nearly seventy percent of the galaxies closest to the Milky Way are spirals. The centre of a spiral galaxy is a glowing bulge of dust and gas orbited by a rotating disk with spiral arms of brilliant stars. The centre of the bulge sometimes masks a supermassive black hole.
The first time I saw an art exhibition outdoors was in Stanley Park in Vancouver, summer 2000. Paintings arranged in community circles, framed by open sky, tall trees, and carpets of green grass captured my imagination. I’d much rather meander through rows of art in the garden than walk through a gallery. Maybe it’s the way the sunlight and shadow dances across the canvas. Maybe it’s the way the earth beneath my feet and the breeze through the trees makes me feel more alive. Maybe it’s the quiet conversation the art seems to be having with its surroundings.
At our year-end choir meeting, one of the singers said “singing in a circle looking at each other is one of the most powerful experiences.” In January I started singing with Safe Harbour, a local chamber choir, a mentor choir for SONG, a local children’s music program.
A Poem Inspired by Learning Together
We tell a story about a mother who is seventy-four
and a daughter who is forty-nine,
adding up time and
along the line between them.
We share an open array of numbers,
imagining parts and wholes,
our strategies exposed by quantities
of numbers decomposing and
constant relationships in our minds
–before even holding a pencil.
Hand over heart we tap
until we see a place
in a string of familiar anchors
and friendly landmarks.
We can count back to see the value, partial
products of flexibility now.
Voices of facts and concepts
and ways to solve
burst with numerate enthusiasm
and joy, seeing how the teacher
draws our thoughts
together on a whiteboard.
We gasp at its simple magnitude.
Everyone has a story.
From our first cry out of the womb we communicate our insight and experience as humans. It is natural. Each new insight and experience for the rest of our lives offers opportunity for story. As we learn, our stories multiply. When we share a story we share our learning. When we receive a story we mix it into our personal collection so the narratives become tangled, sparking new insights and altered versions of their story, our story.
One of the many things I love about my job is that learning is at the heart of the work. Every day I am invited to learn from people, experiences, research, and curriculum subject areas.
For a week this summer I stayed in residence at Trent University, my alma mater.
It surprised me to realize that I hadn’t been back to Otonabee since the late nineties. When I signed up for an intensive theatre course (offered through Theatre Ontario at Trent), I knew I would feel nostalgic but I wasn’t prepared for this. Returning to my first home away from home was a transformational experience.
It was such an honour to have my article on the cover of this month’s OPC Register, a publication by the Ontario Principal’s Council. It’s called: “It Takes a Village: Supporting student well-being using a collective impact model.” Please contact me if you’d like to read the article.