I went with two teachers to a workshop yesterday evening. They were enthusiastic about the content and excited by the possibilities. I would have loved for more teachers to have been able to go, too, but there was also something nice about being with a small group. I think the conversations were better because there weren't so many voices trying to be heard.
It seems as if most teachers don't have a caring ear in their worlds. Good teaching is damned hard work, in addition to being lonely. Kids can do some crazy and wonderful things and there aren't always other adults to share in that. The small joys and frustrations accumulate until the presence of someone with time and interest to listen is like a dam breaking. And when it does, there is often a cacophony of stories with very little conversation. Like toddlers engaged in parallel play, there's lots of side-by-side activity and not much interactivity. It makes me sad to think of how many teachers are just waiting for their opportunities.
Last night, it was good just to let these two teachers unload a bit of stress and then get them engaged in some dialogue about what we were learning together and what it might mean for classrooms in our district. I hope they know that there's someone out there---me---ready to kep on supporting them.