How Megan Got Her Groove Back (aka – The Restorative Powers of Collaboration)!

Collaboration is a journey with many pauses for reflection and celebration. – Shafali

Digital Storytelling and Collaboration poster designed by Shafali.

Part I: Megan Loses Her Groove

Why do I always think of cheesy, dated movies as metaphors for my life? I don’t know. But I am so very decidedly a middle-aged millennial that I make even myself cringe.

Giphy Sticker from @ollejerki. https://media.giphy.com/media/loeCduEXQ38jA8Za5X/giphy.gif

Despite the 90s rom-com era silliness of the movie, I really like the title. And it’s a good metaphor for life too. Because sometimes we feel decidedly ungroovy, and at other times we feel like dancing.

I wasn’t feeling too groovy at the start of 2022. We returned from Winter Break to the start of the Omicron surge in India. The numbers in Delhi were going up fast, so our school decided to go online for a month post-vacation. Returning to Zoom learning put a dent in my Digital Storytelling unit rollout plans.

Then I got Covid. I went to take an Astrazenaca booster shot – pretty much the only time I’d left the house in weeks, and bam, two days later, I was running a fever. It wasn’t that bad. I was one of the lucky ones. I mostly suffered from extreme fatigue. But I had to isolate myself in my bedroom for a week because my husband and three-year-old son were negative. It was very lonely.

I spent my time in isolation sleeping sixteen hours a day and, when awake, binging on Hype House. I now know more than any almost forty-year-old should know about twenty-year-old Tik-Tok stars.

(Do not watch this if you have any shred of dignity)

Suffice it to say, I was in a sad state. I crawled out of bed for an hour each day to teach my ELD class and then I went back to sleep. I felt unmotivated and lethargic.

Part II: Megan Finds Her Groove

Now comes the uplifting part of the story where I start to regain some of my Mojo. I had posted the link to my digital storytelling unit overview on Twitter back in December. The grade 5 ELD teacher at my school, Shafali, saw the tweet and asked if she could use the unit with her grade 5 students. I told her sure, and then suggested we collaborate. We set up a meeting for January 20th to discuss our plans. Little did I know that this would be the start of a glorious collaboration.

Screenshot of the exchange that started it all.

When January 20th rolled along, I still felt pretty crummy. I thought about canceling the Zoom call but didn’t. I logged on but was pretty blah. In fact, Shafali apologized later for hogging all the air time. But I think the truth was that I was still too tired to speak coherently or participate fully.

That call energized me though. Shafali was beyond excited. And she had already  created a shared folder for us in google drive, prepared a project overview handout for our students, and developed a list of success criteria based on what she had read in my unit overview. She was ready to go. And her initial efforts to get the ball rolling were just what I needed to perk back up. I didn’t want to let Shafali down! She was the “wind beneath my wings” (sorry, I just couldn’t resist another cheesy movie reference there).

Part III: Megan Grooves Along

Digital Storytelling Poster – A collaboration between Megan Vosk and Shafali Shafali

After Shafali got me out of my funk, many things started looking up. January turned to February. I started to feel better, the school went back to in-person learning, the numbers in Delhi went down, the sun shone through the clouds, the flowers came out, and the pollution levels in the city decreased – all sorts of good stuff. We started the unit with the students and our collaboration blossomed like the dahlias on campus.

Flowers on campus in February. How gorgeous is this?

The best tool for our collaboration turned out to be Slack. Since we don’t work in the same division, we hardly ever cross paths during the day. But for the past month, we have been slacking constantly. It’s a great way to plan with someone asynchronously and share resources and ideas quickly. I love it.

A snippet of a Slack message between me and Shafali.

Shafali recently shared with me an article called “The Yoga of Collaboration” by Jon Nordmeyer and Andrea Honigsfeld. The article discusses how both yoga and collaboration are rooted in the four concepts of 1)union, 2) intention, 3) awareness, and 4) letting go.

I thought the article was awesome, especially since I am an avid practitioner of yoga and have a regular home practice. I do a Yoga with Adriene video on YouTube almost every day. If you’ve never checked her out, there’s no better time than now. She always has a 30-day challenge in January, which is great for getting motivated at the start of a new year. Actually, one of the worst parts of getting Covid was that I couldn’t do the 30-day challenge as usual. I’m just getting my energy back now though and I’m on day 27. Woohoo!

The following quote from the “Yoga of Collaboration” article resonated with me  because it talks about the importance of humility, which is something I strive to keep in mind while bending into yoga asanas:

“Collaboration helps us to unlearn and makes us better teachers. When we approach our work with an attitude of humility, it removes tension, lowers the affective filter, and creates intentional partnerships. This sense of humility is empowering because it’s what allows us to learn from each other.

If you are interested in thinking more about the connections between Yoga and Collaboration, you might find the below reflection tool interesting. It’s got some excellent questions to help prompt deep conversations between teaching partners.

Reflection tool for teacher collaboration from Jon Nordmeyer and Andrea Honigsfeld.

Being able to connect with someone in another division, who I hadn’t evern talked with in person before a few months ago (despite having taught at the same school together for five years), has been a real blessing and an unexpected benefit of my COETAIL journey. If I had never posted that message on Twitter, that would not have been possible. We are even going to present our Digital Storytelling unit at a “Teachers Teaching Teaching” Session at an upcoming PD day. But more on that later…

The dynamic duo. Megan Vosk and Shafali.

Until then, this is Megan’s Musings signing off. Happy collaborating, everyone!

P.S. Who remembers this song? CLASSIC!

 

One thought on “How Megan Got Her Groove Back (aka – The Restorative Powers of Collaboration)!

  1. Wow! This is an amazing post for so many reasons. Firstly, thank you for sharing your story. Being vulnerable online takes courage but it is so necessary in order to connect with others and help them as well. Deep respect to you!

    Secondly, what a great story of collaboration. Thank you for sharing the journey and the resources. The article and reflection tool you share could be a whole new lens from which to view collaboration.

    Thank you, thank you!

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