Thursday, March 15, 2012

Teaching Journey: Turning a Corner

I started playing school in the cellar when I was six.  I loved creating a make-shift school, organizing my supplies and instructing my little brothers and sister.

Later as a sixth grader, I was chosen to be a kindergarten helper.  That was the best part of the day.  I enjoyed helping the kindergarten teacher.

After that I babysat, worked in the church nursery and usually lead a game or event for the children at every family event.

In college, I volunteered as a Big Sister and worked with two young inner city girls.  I also taught CCD. I continued volunteering and working with children at Children's Hospital and preschools while I studied to be a teacher in graduate school.

I have always been drawn to working with children and excited by the potential education holds for an individual's life.  Teachers had a big impact on my life in a positive way.  For some of my siblings, it was quite the opposite affect.  From an early age, I knew that schools had the power to transform and deform, and I wanted to be part of the positive transformative process schools can be. Hence, a desire to restructure and remake schools for best effect was born.

That vision has fueled me from my earliest days as a teacher.  Probably to the dismay of my first principal, I entered the profession with a desire to remake our school.  I have always tried innovative practices, and I've made many mistakes along the way.  I've also been a vital part of many initiatives that play an important role in our school routine and program.

With the onset of technology, my dreams for better schools have taken on a new life.  Information I craved is now readily available through blogs, Twitter, videos, webinars, websites and more.  Colleagues I longed for are only a tweet, click or discussion away.  The chance to understand, debate and discuss  ideas is also there for the taking.  What I have always dreamed about suddenly seems more possible.

Hence, I've been sharing, questioning, debating and innovating with joy online and off.  I've been reading so many wonderful ideas and visions, that I began to believe that everyone was on board welcoming this new, transparant, equitable school culture as they search for the next, best collaborative, integrated learning approach to meet all students' needs.

Then a challenge was posed that reminded me that, in many ways, I'm somewhat alone on this journey.  That's what sent me to Twitter in the first place to consult and converse--a need to find like-minded educators with vision for better schools. I realized that while I have one foot in the new world of education, I have another foot firmly planted in the old world and that presents a challenge.

So where does this learning curve lead me to at this time?

In the traditional school, I will integrate research, innovation and creativity into the standards and procedures I've been assigned to complete.  I will keep the best interests of children in mind as I do my work, and try to support them in every, positive way I can.

As far as my vision for better schools, I will only share those thoughts, links, articles and information via my blog.  I will no longer email ideas to others, or speak up about change in my work environment at this time. (I'm sure some will cheer when they read this :))

I know I will not be able to let go of the dream to continually improve schools to best meet students' needs in a constantly changing world.  It's a problem I'm passionate about, and it may seem grandiose to some, but I do believe that optimal "schools" create a stronger, more peaceful and satisfying world for all and that matters to me.