How many goals do we factor in when we consider attending professional development Workshops? Legacy’s LivingSidebySide® workshop on Relationship Building Blocks focuses on self-awareness and empathy, increasing self-confidence and trust, and providing tools to work with colleagues, students, and others. On February 2nd in Roanoke Virginia, a diverse audience of teachers and youth workers participated – they were subject matter teachers, guidance counsellors, youth workers, new teachers at their first job, mentors, and case workers.
They described many different goals. The day was carefully planned with interactive exercises to maximize interaction among attendees. As the day progressed, strangers became colleagues, sharing their goals, knowledge, and experience. Their various reasons for attending were that they wanted to:
- Expand their own awareness of diversity, identity, and gain new insights and tools to use with others;
- Re-energize others with whom they work (and in the process they were re-energized;
- Gain new tools and resources for team members and other colleagues;
- Provide their students with tools to successfully have the difficult conversations that they need to have, while respecting other points of view;
- Network with their peers, exchange views, listen closely and learn from others’ experiences in and out of the classroom;
- Align with and support the medium and long range goals of their schools, districts and organizations.
And for new teachers, it was an opportunity to learn from experienced teachers.
Here are some points they made:
Troy Gusler, Special Projects Manager at Total Action for Progress, said: “A lot of it is self-awareness and not living so much in a small box, because looking at what we went through today shows us that diversity is a whole lot more than race, religion, and color. There are a whole lot more differences than
what you would think it to be and so this workshop allowed me to see what I would not recognize”.
David Zobel, teacher at the World Community Education Center, a private school said:
“I would recommend this workshop to others, as a review, and also to be able to talk about those tough topics, I think we had to deliberate, to negotiate, but to see that viewpoint from the other side. It definitely put us to very hot topics right now, and brought us together. I noticed at the beginning of the day we were all in our own little areas, by the end of the day, we were just thick as thieves.
Our goals are to continue growing our diversity and for the years to come I think we can incorporate these exercises for the students as well. To allow them to see a larger meaning to what they are doing, to see themselves as part of a global citizenry. We want to turn this around so that they are not just seeing their own little microcosm what’s on television but to see how other teenagers just like them are living their lives just like them on the other side of the world and find how they can relate and find common ground”.
Legacy’s methodology supports a wide range of social/emotional learning factors in a unified fashion to build character, provide tools for preventing and resolving conflict, diffuse difficult behaviors, promote inclusivity, and promote civic engagement. These complimentary elements target a single aim – turning classrooms and communities into safer places for academic performance, social/emotional learning, and productive interaction.