Community matters. It’s true. We all have a need to belong, and when we are part of a group, we are afforded this sense of connection. Beyond an education, this is what a classroom or school community can offer. And group affiliation can go a long way in contributing to healthy development.
I felt the impact of community firsthand as I spent the last few days in Canada at the Greater Edmonton Teachers’ Convention Association’s annual conference. This was my fifth year supporting the effort, and once again, it did not disappoint. From the time I arrived until the time I left, I was overwhelmed by everyone’s encouraging and supportive nature.
I spoke with several other U.S. presenters about the uniqueness of this group. We noticed how consistently positive the climate was throughout. Educators, conference staff, vendors, presenters – you could feel the emotional connection of the entire group. And that’s saying a lot given that there were about 9000 attendees.
I think we could all benefit by taking a page from the GETCA playbook and making a more concerted effort to work in community with others focusing on our shared humanity. Rather, it seems like over the past decade we have become more divided and isolated in our society. I can’t help but wonder how this fragmentation impacts youth.
I know one thing for sure. If we want kids living well in community with others as adults, they need good role models now doing the same. They also need many opportunities for group interaction and discussions while they are young. So teachers, be it through class meetings, morning advisories, or unstructured interaction with peers, give students practice time being in community with others.
Thank you, Canadian educators. You have restored my faith in the power of community. I’ll look forward to heading back your way again in the future. And don’t worry – you’ll recognize me by my fancy new REDforEDAB scarf.