I spent the weekend at the Biosphere 2 Science Center near Tucson, Arizona. Many of you may remember B2 as a highly publicized ecological research project back in the early 90s where humans were sealed inside a giant simulation of the Earth to measure survivability; or maybe you remember B2 as the setting for a Pauly Shore flick called Bio Dome. Either way, both ended as big disappointments. While here, I realized that being a teacher has some parallels to what the Biospherians might have experienced.
Fortunately, we are not living in a separate world like B2, but we often teach in a bubble. No one really knows the complexity of what we do, we function with very limited resources, and have become very isolated. We briefly see our colleagues as we gather our students and seldom have opportunities to discuss our work as we are constantly migrating from task to task and working well beyond the school day. Our confinement and isolation, along with having to compete for limited resources, such as technology and supplies, has left us as disoriented as the Biospherians. As teachers, we are often solely responsible for the education of the students that are in our classrooms. Support from the outside is sparse and recently we have become the scapegoats for the failures of educational bureaucracies.
Here we are, twenty years after the first Biospherians volunteered to enter B2 and live in seclusion, choosing to isolate ourselves at a National Board Retreat, analyzing and discussing our teaching practice. The outside world may not understand what were doing or why, however all sixty-five educators at B2 this weekend were working together to strengthen their teaching practice for a better B1.