Day two of our conference was great. I spent most of the last two days working — as a board member, I was on call throughout — but I did attend two sessions. Yesterday I joined the session “I Feel Like Going On — Singing in Community,” which was led by Voices of Hope: Women Singing for Inspiration. Voices of Hope is a women’s chorus who sing to celebrate the power of women’s voices. They taught us a series of affirming songs, and we performed for the rest of the conference as the opening act for the Women’s Perspectives reading last night. That was really fun and a reminder of the fact that I want to find a choral group at home to sing with.
This morning I went to a workshop with the amazing, gracious, generous, compassionate Jenny Horsman. I have loved Jenny for years and will always be grateful to WE LEARN for giving me multiple opportunities to meet, work with and learn from her. This morning’s session was “A User’s Guide to the Brain: Nurturing Growth (in the Presence or Aftermath of Violence or Trauma).” The idea of going to a brain science workshop when my own brain was overloaded and exhausted would have been daunting had anyone but Jenny been facilitating. I left with not only a better understanding of how my brain works, but tools for helping it function better. Most fabulous was that the workshop was developed for students, not practitioners (although there were several of us in the room). Nearly every student who attended the conference was in that room, and they drank in that subject matter like water. Jenny’s Learning and Violence website has lots of resources and her book Too Scared to Learn was such a gift to me as a teacher.
Another lovely WE LEARN conference comes to a close. This year was our 10th anniversary, and I wasn’t sure we were going to move forward beyond this afternoon’s closing circle. We’ve been struggling for a long time to keep the organization going, and I’m not sure I would have taken odds that this year’s conference was anything but our swan song. The board presented the “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” question to the membership yesterday — complete with dramatic re-enactments of WE LEARN’s history and some comic-style visual aids drawn on the fly by me (I am both shameless and out of control!). The clearest answer came from a former adult learner who is now a teacher, “Don’t you dare stop. Don’t you dare.”
Well, okay. We’re talking over new ideas and strategies, and we’re finding a way to keep on going on.
Get thee over to Two Writing Teachers for the rest of today’s slices!
Post script: So after we closed down the conference and cleaned up the space, we had a board meeting (still not sure how we were all conscious enough to do that), and I got my suitcase and headed for the late train back to New York. I had plans, people. Plans. I was going to get on that train, write my SOL, post it and then sleep until Penn Station. Plans, I tell you. Yeah. And then I got on the train and the first thing they told us was that the wi-fi was down. Lovely. Lovely. So I wrote my SOL anyway and I’m dating it with the time I would have posted it if Amtrak hadn’t let me down.