This is the latest in a series of blogs by partners of the Fluency work.
By Christa Miller
When I was asked to be part of a ripple group, I really didn’t know what to expect, but knowing that it was with an amazing group of educators, I embraced the opportunity. Our first four sessions with the initial group were with teachers I didn’t know well. Over the course of the sessions, we discussed agency and worked to define it for ourselves. Agency was the core value of the Fluency Project that I struggled with the most, as I didn’t feel I had a true understanding of it.
Over the course of our discussions, I felt like I truly came to own the definition of agency. Not only did I understand it, but I was ready to own it, defend it, and make sure it was developed in my students. It was wonderful hearing all of the different perspectives and contributions from others.
After the initial group, my first ripple group began. I gathered a group of 6 passionate educators that were on board with having a conversation about wonder. Wonder is what stuck with me after my first group on agency. Wonder in the classroom is so powerful. To me, allowing students to wonder and to explore those wonders passionately is what defines student agency. Our conversations were great, inspiring, and thought provoking. We discussed the idea of authentic wonder, as opposed to a one size fits all type wonder. It was certainly great food for thought.
“Ripple groups” were a great description for what happened. From my group, more groups were formed. Each person of my group joined in a conversation with even more people with conversations around the same topic. This grassroots movement began to take effect as one person talked to one group and those people spread the word to others who in turn spread it even further. It was inspiring to see how the conversation continued to ripple out.
After my group, I joined another group, and then another. Before long, the initial group of six led to focused conversations among well over one hundreds educators. From the conversation, passion and ideas were grown. People became excited about the power of agency and wonder and the potential of growing it in our students.
From the groups, I know of a few school-wide conversations that were held. So now, these ideas are flowing through entire buildings. Out of our groups, I also built relationships and found allies. I now have a group of second grade teachers that I regularly text for ideas, encouragement, and camaraderie. I also developed stronger relationships with teachers in my building by having these open conversations with them. My co-teacher, Heather, and I are beginning a student study focused on wonder next week. The ripple effect of our initial group grew much wider and much stronger than I ever envisioned.
Christa Miller graduated from West Liberty University in 2005 with a major in Elementary Education. She later pursued her masters from West Virginia University. After spending a few years as a substitute, teaching a wide variety of subjects and grade levels, she began her full-time career as a teacher at Warwood School in 2010, teaching 1 st grade. Christa currently teaches 2 nd grade. Christa is National Board Certified and constantly seeks out ways to learn and grow. Christa currently is a member of Cohort 4 of The Data and Technology Fluency Project with West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab (situated in Carnegie Mellon University). Christa’s special interests include traveling, running, and spending time with her family.