WE have reached Week #6. Grumpy Old Teacher has caught up at last, but he still has a bad case of the grumps.
This post is week 6 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.
The lead-in: ” You have considered your role as both a leader and follower, and know the optimal conditions for learning. How are you planning to implement change this coming school year? How will you make it fit within the overall goal of your school culture and goals, but be true to your vision?”
The recap of prompts:
- Week One: What are your professional learning goals this summer?
- Week Two: Ponder your professional past. What has made you the educator you are today?
- Week Three: How are you both a leader and a follower in your career?
- Week Four: What are optimal conditions for learning, for you, and for students?
- Week Five: What is your big, hairy, audacious goal for next year?
Plan to Change
How are you planning to implement change next school year?
A bad case of the grumps or a pattern emerging? GOT is wondering now where these prompts are going. What is it with the superhero, super teacher trope and why are we going there?
First, let GOT quote from Hot Lunch Tray the statement of the website creator:
I am Penny Christensen. Originally from Western Michigan, I have taught and lived in Florida, Georgia, and Michigan. I am a lifelong educator, I am still not sure what that will look like in the future for me. I have formally taught 4th-7th grades, specializing in mathematics, science, and content literacy.
After teaching for 11 years I moved into the Technology Department in 2009 as an eLearning Specialist. I help educators implement educational technologies. This technology integration thing is just like acquiring any literacy, one should acquire it and then not need people like me to help. Let’s see.
I have some firm beliefs:
- public schooling can be an act of social justice
- doing well in school does not mean doing well in life and vice-versa
- teachers can at any given moment be the one who makes THE difference and they will rarely recognize that opportunity so always be prepared
- standardized testing is data, just like my BMI
- a person is smarter when they access people from a variety of places and backgrounds
So GOT did a search. He is glad to report that Ms. Christensen has been blogging for about 10 years and her interests are in instructional design and internet learning, specifically, how the tools made possible by technology will enhance student learning. Completely absent from anything is even the slightest whiff of reformy connections.
With that out of the way, but still wondering where this is leading, GOT can answer the latest prompt: I retired my cape. It’s hanging in a museum and I have no desire to put it on again.
How will I lead change in my school? I don’t intend to. Change, real, lasting change is most often organic. It comes not from edicts or forced conversations, it comes not from faculty lounge harangues or wearisome professional development meetings, it comes not from canned programs or purchased programs. Real, lasting change takes place in the hallway when teacher A sees something teacher B has accomplished and says, “How did you do that?”
I cannot control my school. I cannot make people do better even if I thought I had all the answers. Spoiler Alert: I don’t.
But I can set the tone in my room. When I close the door, I can create a learning environment that makes children eager to learn, even math.
To answer the prompt, that is what I plan to do this year. Be the best teacher I can be. If others seek me out, then maybe I will have played some part in effecting change in the school.
But the superhero teacher? That person doesn’t exist and we should stop putting that expectation upon people who are doing the best they can in very trying circumstances.
One thought on “8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge”
“lasting change takes place in the hallway” when you’ve stepped outside your classroom to greet students between classes and notice the ups and downs, friendships and not, and understand each of those to prepare for building the community again the very next period, building a repertoire of strategies to refine daily. It happens during reflection for yourself and with colleagues to manage the “trying circumstances” to more adequately engage students towards better learning each day. It almost is superhero strength to undertake all the underlying processes, pedagogy, and personalities with each lesson. Almost, but not really: it is teaching. It’s a big job. Your post says you understand that, and each day, you “set the tone,” and get it done. Each day, that’s what we do. Change comes when our focus is on the students in front of us: they create the motivation to find the way to guide them.