We are preparing for a big group to descend on a park for a life changing experience. Does that sound grandiose? Megan, how can you know it’s life changing? You can’t plan “lifer” moments…or can you?
Whether you are a teacher or a minion in a company trying to convince your manager of a great idea, you learn early that if you can convince a person it’s their idea, you’re more than half way to success. The team of educators that I work with are maestros of experience. As in, a conductor who – through a series of well timed prompts – creates a soul-swelling sound that is larger than its individual parts. There is a science and an art to moving a group through an experience together in a way that the “aha!” moments tick off until each member of the group has realized their purpose.
Each year I am filled with anticipation and dread and excitement and love for the process. Students from across the country descend on their mountainous destiny, not knowing anyone, often never having visited such a place. They play and laugh and learn. Then there is always a little angst mid week. A little struggle against the flow. And then slowly a realization that in just three days, they know each other better than “friends” from grade school. That’s when they start to respect the magic. And by the end, self realization – what each individual brings to the group, is loved for, is capable of.
The angst I feel personally – anticipating the process of shepherding a group through this arc – is key. My own edginess lets me respond spontaneously to group dynamics and educational disconnects. It reminds me to surrender control to the gods of enlightenment: I will not know or control everything they learn this week. I will shape the experience to optimize that they will learn and then let them bring their own minds to enhance that.
The motto among Teton Science School educators is “Trust the process.” I close my eyes and whisper a promise to not only trust the process but my own wisdom as an educator.