We live in an imperfect, ever changing world. Yet most of us strive for the best possible lives all the time amidst that imperfection, and as we strive we work amongst multiple differing visions of best possible and multiple differing strides toward the good life. This variation creates the weather of life--the bright sunny days, rainy dark days, storms, and quiet too.
I thought about variation and our individual will for best possible this morning as I considered the ever changing landscape of family and school. In our family, we share some common goals and many varying goals too. Our common history, small size, and love for one another makes us mostly supporters of one another as we strive for our individual and collective best possible experiences, lifestyles, and development. In school it's more complex since our histories vary, our connections are more diverse, and our goals of best possible learning environments are defined in multiple ways. This variation can be orchestrated for strength or work against us.
This school year, in particular, has found me striving for harmony amidst more change and variation than usual. Changing building administrators, changing team members, and new initiatives have created multiple points of reflection and revision. The typical situation of new students also creates lots of reflection as I think about how to best serve, partner with, and teach these children. This is a significant year of change for me at the school house because I find myself a bit alone with my vision of what it means to teach well and lead dynamic school systems. I am finding that what was a positive step towards greater teacher leadership has taken a big back step with less teacher voice and choice due to lost time, less good communication and connection, and varying definitions of what it means to teach well. Losing out on the first few months of worthy connection and conversation at the start of the school year due to an administrative change, in part, contributed to this disharmony.
So what's a teacher to do?
As I analyzed the situation at hand, I recognized a difference between supporters and takers. Takers are not interested in what I can do to empower my teaching and student service. Instead takers are only interested in what I can do for them. So where possible I eliminated or reduced my interactions with those takers--events and individuals who take my time in ways that create havoc and work against the research I've done and the work I believe in when it comes to teaching and learning well. I also identified a number of supporters including my grade level team, family members, students, and a number of outside agencies and resources who serve to empower what I can do at school to teach well. I want to strengthen the connections with these supporters in the days ahead and work closely with them to do the job well.
I have also had to revise my vision of what the year would be like. I was looking forward to a year of elevated teacher leadership, greater teacher voice and choice, new ideas that make a difference, and lots of positive growth, yet the direction of the greater environment is taking a different turn which means I've had to adjust my daily/weekly schedule, typical contribution, and professional learning. As with any unexpected situation, I look for the opportunity in the matter--the "when a door closes, a window opens" mindset. That mindset sends me even more into the realm of the grade-level work we do--good work with good people. That mindset also has me considering other goals, goals that will positively lift my life in areas that have laid relatively dormant for some time.
This change is not necessarily good or bad, but instead the way it is. I'm looking forward to reaching in more with the students I teach and program I run with my talented colleagues. Yesterday was a bit of a turning point in this endeavor as I rushed students a bit too much which resulted in some unhappiness. Today I'll slow it down, make amends, and reset our classroom routine in a more realistic, loving, and positive way. The outside agencies that rush us to do more than is reasonable and to teach in ways that are dull and ineffective cannot lead us to places of student unhappiness, classroom chaos, or frustration. Instead we have to do what we know is right and good for children with time to care for each child in ways that matter.
This change finds me making more time for responding to student efforts, thinking about program details, and developing a best possible classroom routine, the kind of routine that strengthens student-teacher relationships and teaches students in brain-friendly, positive ways.
The world is always changing and those changes affect our definitions of best possible as we navigate imperfection. We must continually look for the silver lining--the opportunity for betterment in whatever situation we face. Onward.