Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Beautiful Day: A Renewed Resolve

Today is a beautiful day where I live. The sun is bright, the colorful leaves are scattered everywhere, and the air is crisp.  I had a great night's rest, and the camaraderie of close relatives, hence a sense of warmth pervades my world.

The start of the school year brought many unexpected conflicts with regard to my professional vision and the readiness of those around me. An attempt to make the new evaluation system transparent, collaborative, and forward moving was met with less enthusiasm and support than I hoped for, and the grade-level efforts for starting a weekly STEAM effort each week was met with ridicule, scrutiny, and a lack of support. I didn't expect either. I expected that all would embrace the new evaluation system by giving teachers adequate time-on-task to learn, collaborate, and use the system for best effect, and I anticipated that our efforts to start STEAM (science-tech-engineering-art-math) would be embraced since the whole world is pointing educators in that direction. I also expected that greater transparency, communication, team, and lead time would occur given the tremendous research that points to the terrific effect those attributes bring to organizations, but still many fear, resist, and hault these efforts.

How did I contribute to this cavalcade of less than positive events? What could I have done to prevent this?  First, on a number of occasions last year I sat down with leaders and discussed my vision. I was met with little support or response. I persisted and wrote up my thoughts over the summer, and similarly I received little to no response. My team went forward, and still we received little to no positive response, and substantial scrutiny and criticism.  Now most would say, "Why did you persist?  Couldn't you see that you were getting no positive response or support? Why would you move forward in this climate?"  What made me move forward was the researched belief that collaborative, transparent, shared-decision making environments thrive, and the the fact that children today are hungry for, and in need of, STEAM education.  My research, experience, and observation pushed me forward in this regard.

Clearly, my efforts in both of these realms are not welcome at this time. I tried, I persisted, I pushed forward, and thick walls have been raised to keep me away from this work.  What would have made this easier would have been to receive clear response initially, responses such as "We do not want you to do this; We don't believe in your ideas; We are not going to support those ideas; or further, Don't do that."  I never received those responses, instead I received mostly a silent response, which I took as no position, and therefore moved forward.

So where do I sit now on this beautiful day.  I sit with the thought that I want to bring "the beautiful day" into my teaching and classroom, and effect what I can within those four walls. We've got great supplies, eager students, supportive parents, and lots of learning to do. State guidelines and standards support that work, and I'll do my best by every child to personalize their experience with a high-quality, multi-modal day of responsive, standards-based, interdisciplinary and discrete learning experiences.

I was thinking big, and trying to "be the change I wanted to see in the world." I tried, and my attempts were thwarted in quiet, uncomfortable, and hurtful ways.  I'm moving beyond those efforts for the time being into the beautiful day that the classroom can and should be.  I welcome your thoughts and wisdom should you want to share, and in the meantime I'll think about the current goal--teaching Team 15 children well.