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Friday, August 04, 2017

Choose Your Challenges

Every educator has a vision for what they want to do in the school and classroom. Often an individual educator's vision is not shared by others, and that's when an educator has to advocate. Yet, educators can't advocate for all challenges as they wouldn't have time to teach. So what's a teacher to do.

As I think about the year ahead, I'm thinking about the challenges for which I've made little headway, challenges that remain and challenges that I believe, if met, will improve the teaching/learning environment.

Furniture
With generous dollars from our PTO, I've been able to purchase some nice, comfy chairs for my classroom. The chairs, as pictured on the right, serve to hug the children as they read and collaborate with peers. Those chairs bring comfort and make the room more welcoming. There's other furniture I've advocated for including new shelving, tables and chairs with wheels, and storage work benches. To date, I've received no support for this equipment. Instead I got traditional desks and a traditional cabinet. I've been told that my requests for this new furniture are not supported. Yet again and again, I read about and see classrooms that have this new furniture and I notice how that furniture positively affects the teaching/learning possible.

Software 
Another point of challenge is tech software. I have little to no voice over what is ordered. Generally I've paid for my own software, but I don't want to keep spending that money at this time for a number of personal reasons. It saddens me, however, to realize that I have almost no say in this sphere. I've worked on this challenge for years to little success. I know that we could do so much more if we had greater ability to try out and order new tech programs to invigorate learning, but I am in a tough situation in this regard.

Growth Mindset - New Initiatives
I'm a fan of the continual development mindset where systems are aiming up at getting better. Some are fans of this mindset and others are more apt to stick with what we've always done. There's definitely a good balance between the approaches, however it can be frustrating to have a development mindset in groups where the status-quo reigns. I think the answer here is to find groups to align yourself to who want to develop, grow, and continually improve efforts and impact in ways that matter. Fortunately I have a grade-level team who looks forward to developing our practice. I also belong to other groups and committees who want to develop too. It's important to look for allies in this endeavor.

The good news is that my colleagues and I advocated for a team approach and we received the green light to do that. Our collaborative model is successful, and I am happy to work with that model to teach well Similarly I have a lot of hands-on tools with which to teach and that's good too. We also have a super schedule this year which is similarly terrific, and students have one-to-one computers as well as Google apps--again a positive situation.

So as far as the furniture and software, I'll put those challenges aside this year. I'll listen to see if any support exists and in the meantime, I'll focus on what I can do with what I have. Onward.