A few weeks ago I was challenged by @SabrinaTyrer to start a blog and share my thoughts on how we can #MakeSchoolDifferent. It has taken a little time to get there, but I am glad to have to chance to respond with some thoughts and reflections.
#1 We need to stop pretending… that we can do it alone. At its heart, the classroom is such a personal extension of each teacher’s passion and heart. Because of that, it is very easy to close our doors and to ‘go it alone’. However, for true growth and change, we need to open our doors – both literally and figuratively – to let others in. Whether that means visiting other teachers in their classroom, collaborating during prep period, or bouncing an idea off of a colleague, we need to remember (and often challenge ourselves) to come out of hiding and recognize that we are part of a larger educator team. On that note…
#2 We need to stop pretending… that the ‘teacher’ is the all-knowing figure. Very early on in my career I was told the great advice to ‘get on the good side of the custodians and secretaries’. A school cannot run without every member of the team – teachers, EAs, secretaries, custodians, administrators, etc… – working together, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve turned to one of our secretaries or custodians to save the day. They are the people who know the inner workings of a school and truly know every student and staff member. Every person in a school is there for one reason… for the betterment of the students.
#3 We need to stop pretending… that it is the classroom that changes students lives. While the classroom is where we often focus the most time, for many of our students school is the one place where they can connect with others, experience music and athletic camaraderie, engage in travel, and more… While each of us are passionate about our subject, it is not the strategies to solving trigonometric equations or writing a harmonic minor scale that will stay with students. Instead it is the conversations, connections and experiences that really change lives.
#4 We need to stop pretending… that ___________ will make the difference. Whether that blank is filled in with ‘technology’, ‘DI’, ‘conferencing’, ‘three part lessons’, or any other strategy or idea, we need to realize that there is no one single answer that will work each day for every student. Instead, we need to dig deeper than the current ‘thing’ and discern the true factors affecting student learning in our classroom. Change is not easy, and every small step is a step in the right direction, but we need to look back far enough to see how all these steps work together and what really is/needs changing.
#5 We need to stop pretending… that we need to get them ready for next year. Whether it is an FDK classroom moving in to desks to get ready for Grade 1, a grade 8 student writing tests in individual desks to get ready for high school, or a grade 12 student writing a 2000 word essay to get ready for university, we need to stop thinking about what may come next year, and instead focus on the now. If we don’t live in the moment and focus on the student need as it presents itself now, we will never do our best job to support our students.
To end, I want to send a tag and nudge out to some of my colleagues who challenge my thinking everyday. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts @Barb_Seaton, @LindaDeVos5, @AaronHarrisEdu, @RickPardo and @LCDIA.
Until next time…