Preparing to ‘Stop’

Driving home from a weekend of graduate coursework last  Sunday,  I approached signs warning of road work ahead. There, at the side of the road, was this sign:


Those three simple words summarized the first weekend of Educ 807 and, I’m guessing, the next few months of graduate coursework.  We discussed the importance of being aware enough to notice the ‘stops’ during the inquiry process, those moments when reading, or writing, or engaging in the inquiry process, that, although fleeting, offer rich and meaningful learning. More on ‘stops’ and the originator of the idea follows.

In my mind, there are a few steps to take before you are prepared to ‘stop’. It’s good to know these steps; if you don’t slow down and aren’t prepared to stop, you could miss your destination entirely, and I know that no one in the cohort wants to do that. So, my steps, as I see the process…

Preparing to Stop:

  • Know who you are personally and professionally. Understand the  lenses through which you view the world, know your distant teachers and how they’ve influenced you, and be aware of your passions and what ‘rubs’ you the wrong way.
  • When reading, read for what David Appelbaum calls ‘stops’, those gaps or spaces in-between ideas that catch your attention. Instead of reading an article and underlining everything that you find interesting, read with an awareness of what ‘stops’ you and makes you think. Find those few ideas that inform your inquiry and make you wonder. Read in a critical yet personally meaningful way. Not everything that is interesting is relevant to your inquiry.
  • When you notice a ‘stop’, determine why you stopped – why did it matter? How does that inform you, your teaching practice, the inquiry you’re working on?
  • Also note, what questions does the stop raise?
  • Finally, when writing, pay attention to the self-created ‘stops’ that emerge from reflection, observation, data collection, etc. – I’m guessing we’ll be learning more about this in the coming weeks as we’re onto data collection very soon!

If only road signs could always sum up learning experiences for people. The world would be a completely different place…

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