The first year of the edu180atl project came to a close today. And after 180 days, 180 posts, 180 voices, and 180 stories of learning, I am better for it. The project, born out of a back-and-forth on Twitter in January 2011 has been a powerful vehicle for nurturing and encouraging the spirits of those who love to learn, connecting learners across the city, and deepening the national conversation about education over the course of the past 180 school days.
This week, members of the founding edu180atl team took time to reflect on what this project has meant to us (the full posts are linked below). Today, Holly Chesser wrote a post looking toward the future and also sharing what this project has meant to her. She will be leading the edu180atl team alongside Jennifer Murphy for the 2012-13 school year.
I am proud to have been a part of this project and the edu180atl team.
I have felt alive, awake, curious, and furious this 2011-12 school year. Consuming the wisdom generated from 175 posts, and now creating this 176th post, I have gained greater consciousness about learning and schooling and being in this world.
And I feel wide-awake to possibility.
Through the edu180atl project, I’ve connected with countless learners and their stories of learning—stories filled with struggle and challenge, but also fulfillment and joy. These connections make me feel even more empowered to persevere through my own difficulties, and give me a great sense of gratitude.
Since August I too have leaned toward the sun, toward the bright spots of reflection and dialogue in Atlanta: students expressing their uniqueness and creativity, adults facing cataclysmic change in their lives, teachers reveling in the endearing moments of their day, parents expressing their hopes for their children. I really do think that the 170+ authors have captured the full range of experience that comes with devoting oneself to a lifetime of learning. And yet, there are so many degrees yet to capture. So I continue leaning toward the brightness of our community’s reflections, waiting with anticipation as the next group of volunteers write, read, comment, edit, and share what it means to be a learner.
Indeed, it is this kind of spirit that inspired us to create edu180atl — a place where individuals have dared to share, to be transparent, to struggle, to reinvent themselves. By so doing, the hallmark of a healthy community is evolving: empathy for one another. Isn’t that a fundamental condition for learning? People may say education in Atlanta is broken. Institutionally, as a whole, maybe it is. But, I believe. I believe that this edu180atl community is designing a future for education in Atlanta built on empathy.
This desire to find our commonalities and to appreciate our uniqueness lies at the heart of edu180atl’s mission: “to nurture and encourage the spirits of those who love to learn,” “to connect learners,” and “to deepen the national conversation about education.”
Today marks the sunset of this school year: post # 180. Time to seek relaxation and renewal. But like any good teacher, I’m thinking back over all the posts I’ve read and wondered, “”What’s the take away? What did I learn?” In re-reading many posts this week, I discovered a harmonious refrain – a gratitude for those who care, a discovery of something hidden within, and a wish for what could be. As I tell my students, there’s only one story – the human story – and we each keeping telling it with infinite variation.