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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Broken Record

I feel like a broken record.

The same desires and struggles play over and over and over again.

Trust me, I've sought a large range of pathways to remedy this situation, but it persists.

The ideal is that I'm able to work with my mind, ideas, experiences, tools at hand, and team to craft awesome teaching and learning programs--the kind that make students want to continue the learning on their own at home.

Yet I continually meet roadblocks in this regard. Some with power don't see it the way I see it.

While we preach growth mindset for children, there's not that much support for it with regard to teaching.

And while we tell students it's okay to make a mistake and that's how we learn, there's little room for teaching mistakes or risk taking.

I look to the research and my PLN for inspiration, guidance, and understanding. They fill my Twitter feed, Facebook, and Internet with titles of books, articles, links to new programs, and ideas that have empowered the teaching and learning I do.

Students' showcase portfolios affirm the ideas as many of the new ideas and teaching are the students' favorite days at school. They like working as a team, creating, and learning in multimodal ways.

I am happy to take other paths when good rationale supports that work, but often I'm told to travel paths where rationale is rarely shared and information is not forthcoming. When I ask questions, I am chided for long emails and repetition. Yet the repetition and length arises from little share, information, or time to meet. However, the more I know the better I can do.

I am not perfect. I have my weaknesses as a human being--weaknesses I am quick to acknowledge and own, and weaknesses that actually also serve as strengths sometimes.

It's much like feeling the walls cave in on you when you're asked to teach without voice, choice, creativity, and experience. It feels robotic and belittling whereas true teamwork and respectful collaboration, the kind my grade-level team enjoys, is empowering, energizing, and forward moving. It helps us to do the best we can do day in and day out, and the children's happiness affirms that.

Good teaching demands inspiration, energy, zest, and spirit. It's very difficult to teach well when you are uninspired and overly directed, in a sense it's cage-like which makes you want to growl.

I'm surprised at how sharp this turn in the road has become. I wonder if the broader issues occurring in the environment where I teach are contributing to this. There's an opening at the top, and could it be that greater scrutiny arises from the desire of some to move up or into that spot--I don't know. Or could it be the angst related to changing leadership that creates a need for more order and uniformity. Is it a way to get rid of older teachers, the ones who make more money? Do my questions and idea share get in the way of directives others want to champion?

I'm not sure what is going to happen, but I suspect it will be painful. In the best of circumstances, we would come together at the table to discuss our perspectives, hopes for children, and plans to teach well. An ideal meeting like this, and one I thought we were going to have,  could be a win-win as there's no one involved who does not have good gifts, experience, insight, and ideas. In the worst of circumstances, I will be admonished with severe words and acts similar to the last time I got emotional. It was excruciating and took a deep toll on my personal life. I raised my voice that time as I advocated for better technology use, use that "children could see themselves in." If that happens again, I won't bring my family down the road--they were too kind and supportive last time, and I appreciated all that they did for me. I will take it on my own. The middle ground will be painful too and that will be the path of following all the dictates with little say, choice, creativity, or research-based effort. To not be able to teach well is painful too.

I don't like that this is all so public, but the blog is the only way I have a voice, and the only medium where I can express these feelings and tell the story.

Like a broken record, most are tired of hearing it. Even I'm exhausted and discouraged by the squeaky, wrenching sounds as the record turns round and round. As I wade these dark waters, I've got yet another idea about how to move, and perhaps this will mitigate the sorrow and pain, and allow some peaceful, forward movement. Onward.