The Cluster Pedagogy Learning Community began during a simpler, less harried time. Oh there were crises, mind you, but nothing prepared us for what was to come: a pandemic, campus closures, an unemployment spike, racial reckoning, remote-learning-at-gunpoint, and an insurrection: tragedies with which you, dear reader, are all too familiar.
In spite of incessant turmoil at home and around the world, our learning community engineered many successes. We articulated values and clung to them like the drifting planks of a splintered shipwreck: openness, accessibility, equity, humanity.
I was a neophyte when the CPLC launched, and I’m perhaps one of its greatest beneficiaries. The knowledge, experience, and empathy of the other CPLC members challenged and inspired me. I owe every successful exercise and positive evaluation to them. Well, almost every: I did create and collect ideas from my own personal learning circles.
One of the first professional development experiences was a two-day program on Project-Based Learning. The presenters from the Buck institute taught me invaluable skills for teaching TWP. In those same sessions, wizened psychology faculty gave me excellent insights for constituting student groups.
Most vital of all, though, Josh Eyler’s book How Humans Learn was a seminal source of expertise. The book, one of several provided to us early in the CPLC, was accessible, clear, and evidence-packed. Through it, I gained access to exceptional scholars and their ideas:
- Alison Gopnik on the scientist as child
- Susan Engel’s hungry mind and the educated mind
- Rothstein and Santana’s Question Formulation Technique
- Dan Willingham on the power of storytelling
- Natural pedagogy and the social classroom
- Eric Mazur’s peer instruction
- Classroom authenticity
Reflecting on this partial list is a humbling reminder of how far I’ve come as an instructor.
The momentum I gained from the CPLC led me to create several Jan Jam and University Days presentations. Hoping to pay it forward in some modest way, I led presentations on:
- Question Formulation Technique
- Habits of Mind
- The Righteous Mind
- Prior Knowledge
- Project-Based Learning
I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished, and what we’ve done together as a community. The challenges were daunting and the psychological toll formidable, but we persevered, I hope, to the long-lasting success of our students.