Today, Opal School staff returned to school. For me, it's been a very busy summer: I left the country just a few days after Symposium ended, traveled far and wide, and slept only a handful of nights at home in Portland. Returning to school was my first opportunity to carefully read participants' reflections on their experiences.
What a warm welcome back it was! Just a few of the participants' reflections are shared here along with some glimpses of the experience for the benefit of my colleagues at Opal, for the educators who attended the 2015 Symposium, and for other interested readers:
I look forward to being a part of [Symposium] every year. I always feel energized and renewed. Although I reflect daily during the school year, Opal brings me to a much deeper place of reflection and helps me see the bigger picture – or to envision a bigger picture. I look forward to each and every story that is shared during Symposium – by all the presenters, and by participants from all over the world while standing in line or exploring materials. I am never disappointed – and I love and appreciate all that you do and all that you are.
The stories of the educators here are so refreshing – the transparency, the deep reflection, the authenticity.
Deeply appreciate the effort, beauty and creativity in the presentation of materials and the time to both play and reflect.
I really loved hearing from folks from so many schools [about] how they apply and invoke these similar principles in so many different spaces.
Each day has been excellent – new learning each time building on the previous.
So beautifully and thoughtfully done – I am amazed and humbled to have been here.
I have had the story of what is possible awakened inside of me. [I’m] immensely energized and appreciative of the paradigm shift in my teaching practice and my view of the world.
I feel inspired by the spirit of inquiry.
Always moved by the stories, words, and work of young children. [This] highlights assumptions about the capabilities and potential that I didn’t even realize I needed to unpack.
Thank you for reminding me why I am in this field and the important role we hold.
I’m happy for everything that my brain is full with. So many questions and possibilities!
I’m going home a better teacher and a better mom.
Stunning and revolutionary. I am inspired and touched!
I leave full of energy and excitement to continue this work in a way I did not think was possible. I know how I can apply these practices into my own classroom.
I can’t wait for the start of the new school year! So much to try, so many different ways to build community, empathy and agency!
Like that Symposium participant, we're also excited to start a new year and explore new ways of building community, empathy, and agency. We're eager to add new dimensions to our understanding of what is possible when children and adults come together with a spirit of curiosity and creativity. We know that it will be a year full of learning and wonder.
Opal School children, we're looking forward to your arrival next week!
Fellow educators, we hope that you'll visit this year and join us in investigating what it means to be guided by a pedagogy of play!