It's been several months since I've been up worried in the wee hours of the night. School has started, and sometimes that's what gets me up. Why?
Teaching well in complex systems with multiple leaders presents many challenges.
Often, the equation of workers and leaders leaves those of us in the front line with little support and great challenge with respect to responding to the leaders' initiatives, rules, and expectations. On one hand we see many, many ways to serve families and students well, and on the other hand we have to navigate complex paths in order to make our vision a reality each day.
I reach out again and again, and usually receive no answer at all, a firm no, or a complex set of steps for any idea. It's discouraging, and frankly I can't serve students well if I continue to seek support or help down paths that go nowhere. Those who consistently hinder fluid change and momentum will be happy by this decree as their lack of response, no's, and complex steps have been a message to me to stop--stop sharing, stop trying out new ideas, stop asking questions.
So what's a teacher to do?
I will do the best I can with what I have at hand to do the job well including a terrific grade-level team of child-centered educators, wonderful students, supportive families, a caring school community, and an extended community that values education and new ideas.
I long for schools that regard educators with more respect than rules, lead time, and systems of support that truly allow for responsive innovation and new ideas. I like the momentum in education circles towards greater teacher leadership, blended learning, technology integration, learning in the community, and interdisciplinary, students-first study. I know that initiatives like these invigorate the work we can do with and for students. I'll be on the look out for who and where this is happening with strength.
In he meantime, I'll focus in on my mainstay responsibility to teach math well with depth, meaning, relevance, and skill as well as to mentor, coach, and guide a wonderful team of fifth grade students. I enjoy the subject and focus, and it's a path that's clear for the taking.