Friday, November 11, 2011

Thoughts on Veterans Day 11-11-11

This morning I volunteered ten minutes of my time to read some of the many names of fallen soldiers from the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was part of a project put forth by the UW-SP Veteran Club, and it provided a stark reminder about how these individuals gave their time and life in the cause of freedom. It wasn't until I stepped behind the podium that I began to think of how they impacted others, for they sacrificed everything for us. In our world this group of fallen soldiers would no longer experience love and family, they would never again see the faces of friends and community, the smiles of their loved ones, and the joys of father/motherhood, and everything else we often take for granted.
There was no crowd of students listening to what I said, but rather most individuals kept to their paths of going to or from the DUC. There were one or two people who paused to offer their respect, perhaps a prayer or moment of meditation. The roll of names was steady and consistent, no elevated pitch when emphasizing Private First Class, Sargent or Special Forces. In God's eyes they were His children fallen in battle, and I know He was there with open arms when their lives passed from our world to His.
As I read each name, I saw a face and imagined where they might now be had there been no war. There were moments when I choked back emotion, trying to maintain my poise and respect. Both my father and father-in-law were Veterans of WWII and the Korean conflict respectively, and I wondered how life would have changed not only for myself and my wife, but also my son had they not survived those wars. It put their sacrifice into a whole new perspective. Today was a sobering experience and one which I will long look back on. It defines who we are as a country, community, family and most of all, individuals who care to make a difference in the world. To all the veterans, be they living or deceased, I am most grateful for your service to our country. You are not...and will never be forgotten!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Collaboration In My Future Classroom

The word "collaboration" is apparently getting a lot of press today, and the Journal Sentinel reports that teachers are going to be partially assessed on their collaboration with one another. I consider this to be a worthy attribute, but it is important to remember that teacher collaboration goes beyond the immediate walls of the school and draws upon interactions with educators in other facilities. It goes beyond the water cooler and into the ocean of ideas which transpose education. I like the expression 'Knowledge Garden' as it relates to the concept of collaboration...walking amidst a range of topics and conversation...sometimes engaging, sometimes interacting, and sometimes just observing. My knowledge garden is grounded in my community. Mike McMaster said it well when he noted our sense of fit, of competence, of belonging comes from being "of community." Those individuals who understand this concept see themselves as having an identity grounded in their community, having the ability to expand into other communities with little difficulty. So often this is the result of collaboration with others. We live in a time of unlimited sources of electronic and social technologies, and the level of our intelligence and wisdom could be magnified many times over if we would only let go of some of mundane routines which have become traditional 'habits' of themselves. Collaboration allows us to learn from others in ways which are truly special. Stay tuned for more....