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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Forward Movement: Moving Beyond Dread

Step back, take the long look, and decide how you will proceed.

The positives are that I have a great team, wonderful students, supportive parents, and a kind principal. I've also had the opportunity to learn with many online and offline, and I'm enthusiastic about the challenges to ignite and modernize education. I see so many ways that we can work together to move our programs forward.

The biggest weakness is that in my role as a classroom educator I have little say and choice over mandates and programming. More often than not, policy and protocols do not represent my ideas, but instead the ideas of others, ideas I disagree with at times due to the fact that the ideas don't match up with research, reading, and observation I've done.

I've tried a large number of ways to encourage new systems with regard to ideas, leadership, and team. At the collegial/school level this work in conjunction with colleagues has been positive, and this is good. At other levels, this work has not had as much impact and that's troubling.

Yet I can't stay stuck at this impasse, instead I have to seek an alternative route so that I can continue to have good energy with regard to what I do and can do with and for students and colleagues.

First, I have to acknowledge that each and every day I do my best to teach well. I have to shore up my confidence in that regard since some would like to tear that confidence down.

Next, I have to recognize that I always go beyond the call of duty to learn in order to teach well--I put in the extra time. I enjoy this work and feel it has a positive impact on what I can do with and for students.

Third, I represent my views with regard to transparency and inclusion by welcoming others into the information I learn, ideas I wonder about, and thoughts I have about growth and change. My share is rarely entertained by those in charge of my work--in fact they have noted that my share is a nuisance and "overwhelming."

Fourth, I fully know I don't know it all and believe that it takes all of us together to do good work. I am a big fan of idea share and dynamic teams, but am continually frustrated that this is not the system model I work within. The model I work within is in many ways a hierarchical model which maintains that some have the power to make decisions and know information and others don't. This is always frustrating to me and a reality I write a lot about as I believe this kind of system halts potential rather than empowers potential.

Today as my students and I are observed by those who know little about my classroom approach, I'll feel a lot like an animal in a zoo. I know that they will conjecture about what I do and why I do it possibly whispering as I teach. They won't make the time to talk to me about what they see which makes me feel small. Yet, in system definitions, I am only a small cog on the teaching rail, and that's the way it is. Some would say, why would you think it would be any different, be the humble servant that a teacher is supposed to be. Put on a good show, smile, be kind, and stay in your place.

In the ideal situation, teachers would be full members of teaching/learning teams. Their ideas, questions, and observations would be entertained with strength, truth, interest, and strategic process. Team would be encouraged, and together teams of professionals, students, and families would work together to forward the best possible education for every child.

As I move forward, I will do all I can to contribute to and forward that kind of team within my areas of voice and choice--the classroom and the collegial team. With students, parents, and colleagues, I'll do what I can to teach well and forward the best possible service. I know I would be able to do more for students if I had greater support from the greater system, but for now I'll have to be content with what exists.

I'll heed the "overwhelming" and "nuisance" comments as I think about better ways to share new learning and ideas to forward a more modern teaching/learning organization. I'm full of dread this morning as I anticipate the observation, but I'll do what I can to prepare to "show what I know" and bring out the best in students. I imagine that this is how students may feel when they are obligated to take some assessments or complete tasks for which they've had little say. So on the up side, this is an event that will build my empathy for others. Onward.