During the last week of January, the Jesuit Schools Network Conference Office gathered at the Washington Retreat House in Washington, D.C. for a noon-to-noon retreat, with the primary purpose of engaging with the Virtual Colloquium videos on Educate Magis’s website. Our facilitator, Sean Michaelson, S.J., who serves as the socius for the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, employed the Canadian Model to lead us in our reflection on each of the three videos and the questions that accompany them, as well as on some supplemental questions of his own devising. This proved to be an enriching way to spend time with these well-crafted, thought-provoking videos.
After two watch-throughs of the video that would be our focus for the next hour or so, we were given 20 minutes’ silent reflection time, during which we could wander or stay put as we pleased, gathering our thoughts in whatever way seemed most natural to us. Once these 20 minutes had passed, we would gather again and, one by one, share our primary takeaways from what we had watched, or what came up for us as we considered the reflection questions we had been given, with no commentary from the rest of the group. The second time around the table, we each responded to what we had heard the others say in the first round, describing thoughts and ideas presented by our colleagues that resonated with us. The third and final round was an open discussion where we abandoned the pre-determined “turn order” and delved deeper into what we had shared and heard.
What resulted were three meaningful conversations that were also very focused, which can be a challenge when discussing topics with such far-reaching implications as Cultivating Depth, Building Reconciliation, and Choosing Purpose. We challenged each other and got to know each other better, and we left with important questions, ideas and perspectives to take with us into our daily lives.
If you are looking for a way, in your school or community, to engage with the Virtual Colloquium, it may be worth dedicating some time to this model; you will not come away from it empty-handed.