Have you seen in chemistry how the scientist mixes together all the materials that you need for an explosive reaction? But nothing's happening yet? Or should I say, the reaction is happening but it's slow. All those materials were like the years of experience that I had in and around education. Everything I needed was there and waiting. Sallow, mostly inert.
Then the scientist adds a piece of metal and all the sudden the reactants go bananas. The reaction speeds up to a fever pitch. Smoke is flying and the mixture is spitting and gooing all over the place.
That was the Kagan workshop for me. I had the raw experiences and the mindset that I needed to become a cooperative learning educator, but I was missing the catalyst of active tools and strategies to help me use it as part of every lesson I teach. The Kagan workshop plopped me down in a room with a bunch of other educators at a table of four. We used the very same strategies we were learning to digest and process this new style of education. We played games, moved around, reviewed, took notes.
But that was only the beginning. The real education happened when I started applying it in my classroom. You could take what you learned there and use it the very first day you were back in class, and I did. I put my students in teams of 4, gave them assigned roles during discussion and talking. I began to change the way my classroom felt.
Every weekend, I took several hours to review and dig through the Cooperative Learning book published by Spencer and Miguel Kagan.