Over winter break last year, I decided to take a dirt bike ride up the educational mountain of flexible seating, so I brought in a few pieces of my mom’s furniture and removed 18 desks from my classroom. My mom had recently downsized from a 2400 square foot house to a 910 square foot apartment. She had some furniture that I could use, so I did. Pushing those desks out into the hall was more difficult than I imagined. It wasn’t the physical exertion that was difficult. It was the letting go of tradition and status quo. Letting go and venturing into the unknown.
Often in education we struggle. Did I say often? I mean always. There is struggle in education. It isn't the kind of job that you go to daily, do the same thing, get into a routine geared toward efficiency, and put yourself on autopilot. We can get very good at what we do, but there are oh so many times that we just utterly crash and burn. Teaching is hard.
So, I took my daughter to her college town today. She had an apartment reserved with a security deposit, and today, August 1st, was the first day she could move in, so she did. This is her third year in college, but it will be her very first year in this town, at this particular university, and her first experience at living on her very own in an apartment with a roommate.
This is not your regular blog post. After all, the blog is Rockin' The Boat, so if I don't bust out of even those preconceived blog post parameters every now and then, I'm not doing my job and would need to re-title this blog and rethink my life.
As a mythology teacher, I love covering the story of Narcissist and Echo. I enjoy the reactions students have, the conversations it leads too, and the humor that the author brings in with the version we read in class. But as fabulous as that story may be, I want us to consider something through a new lens. If we share what we are doing and all the things we know, are we narcissistic? Are we? No, we aren't, but it is getting harder to convince ourselves of that in the current climate of social media.
My daughter has been a list maker for all of her 20 years where she was old enough to create lists. Having what she needs to accomplish for a day, week, or month written succinctly in list fashion where she can check it off is what she needs to be successful. My own daily life at school has been so busy that at times I've not only had to make my own lists of task to accomplish, but I've also included "go to the bathroom" on the list so that I didn't forget during the busyness of my prep period. I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences (except for maybe the bathroom part).
You read that correctly. Hungry chicken. Obviously you aren't literally a chicken, hungry or otherwise, so I have a professional development metaphor for you based on a summer full of conferences, vacations, ballgames, unplugged vs plugged in (is that the opposite of unplugged?) debate, family time, rest, growth, more, less, etc. You get the picture. Everyone does it differently, and there's always more than one way to do things. One size does not fit all, certainly, and there is no judgement here.
With the movement of student voice and choice echoing throughout the Edusphere (I hope I'm the first to make up/use that word, but probably am not), many districts, buildings, administrators, and teachers are pondering how to balance this with all of the other changes in the air. Let's push our thinking a bit and see how student voice can be amplified in our hiring and firing process.
A debate recently cropped up on Twitter (shocking) about whether or not "good" teachers spend time thinking about the next school year while on summer break. The debate really centered around the concept of a "good" teacher. One side mentioned that a good teacher might spend some time thinking about next fall. Others declared that good teachers need the time off to rejuvenate and regenerate their passion for education by resting, relaxing, traveling, and spending time with family. I'm not actually going to try to settle this debate, but I am going to challenge both groups. My last post, The Danger of Getting Comfy in Our EDU Skins, I explored ways to grow yourself and get out of that place where we are, well, comfortable.
My blog is called Rockin' The Boat for a reason. The status quo always brings out my oppositional defiant muscle, which I flex often. As I became a connected educator these past two years, I began to see and learn things that would benefit my students. My oppositional defiant muscle (ODM) began to twitch. The most challenging was changing my high school classroom into flexible seating. In the biggest hurdle I've faced is my own mindset, and that's a work in progress. Has every one accepted changes I'm making for students? No. The problem may be that we as educators tend to get comfortable in our educational skin. We often let our ODM atrophy when it comes to the EDU status quo so that everything that takes us out of our routine is viewed as a threat. That, my friends, is a danger to our growth, creativity, and innovation. It's summer, or nearly for most of us, so that means it's time to get into shape. EDU shape. ODM shape.