There are areas of practice that are most challenging:
I truly believe that what we can do together trumps what we do on our own, yet in busy schools with many, many students and teachers it's often difficult to collaborate as well as we can. What holds us back?
Collaboration with my grade-level team works well--we have common planning time, common goals, common vision/beliefs, and common investment. We typically collaborate very well to meet the needs of all students. Collaboration outside of this realm is a bit more challenged and this challenge occurs because there is not much common planning time and there may be some differences when it comes to common vision and understanding of the program goals and efforts.
How can we close this gap? I believe that we need to revisit vision, use of time, and focus in some areas of collaboration--we need to recalibrate those areas with big think. Since I'm not in charge of those areas, I have to think deeply with my colleagues about how we might do this. One of my colleagues recently made a good suggestion related to this so I think I'll work more on this effort with her to make positive change.
Calm, Cool, and Collected
I'm an emotional person--I feel deeply and express greatly. My family always reminds me that they always know how I feel. This deep emotional side is definitely a positive when it comes to creativity, deep think, and passionate work, but it's not always a positive when I'm working with lots and lots of people with minute-to-minute decisions and an environment where positive routines are paramount to success. Hence I have to continually work towards a calm, cool, and collected demeanor while at school and leading lots of children. I can use my passion-side while planning, learning, some teaching, and for recreation.
Patient, Planned Advocacy
I'm often impatient for change. When I see promise, I want to make it occur right away. Yet we know that positive transformative change takes good collaboration, a plan, and patience--this kind of change doesn't happen overnight, but instead requires organization. The impatience for change works well for small changes that I can make happen on my own, however I want to gain greater patience, collaboration, planning, and organization when it comes to big changes that will really empower the teaching/learning community--changes that increase meaningful work, better collaboration, improve vision, and embed good research more to heighten our overall affect with what we can do with and for students and families.
As I think of this advocacy, I am focused on the following issues:
- Better supporting and teaching our difficult-to-reach students. I know we can do a better job for these students with greater social-emotional supports, better family-school communication/collaboration, more targeted assistive technology support/efforts, greater fidelity to student service schedules, an effort to map student service delivery, collaborative attention to research and the efforts to embed that research into our practice, and more hands-on-deck when it comes to time-on-task with students.
- Improvement with science/math teaching to make that teaching/learning deeper, project/problem based, integrated with writing, including more hands-on activities, and related to relative/meaningful goals/projects.
- Greater state- and federal-funding to support education so that all of our students get the kinds of teaching/learning programs that will support their positive development and happy lives.
- Potential inclusion of greater health-care services at or near schools. Can students use their health care cards to get these services at centers closely associated with schools. This idea has arisen from students whose families have difficulty getting needed health care services to support their children, and the consequence that children who don't get the health care they need are unable to learn in best possible ways.
As educators our good work and our work that continues to need greater development is mirrored everyday in the countless students, families, and colleagues we work with. Most educators are well aware of their strengths and areas for continued growth--it's almost impossible not to know since our work is subtly and outwardly reflected in daily comments, looks, and results daily. The key to success in the face of this is to own our areas of need, and to build the kind of positive, collaborative learning/teaching environments where we are able to work together to develop one another in ways that matter. Onward.