The audacity of August (and really June and July) has met the realities of September!
As the 2016-2017 year wound down, I found myself excited by my new found professional development (ie Twitter PLN). Typically, I’d be looking forward to a nice summer “off” with a workshop or book skim sprinkled here and there. But this off-season was shaping up differently. I was engaged by all these wonderful ideas to shift the way I taught. To rethink how I planned. To jump in and try out different tools, apps and sites that could enhance my students’ learning.
All through June, July and into August, I was making a list… checking it more than twice… of all the inspiring and exciting ways to engage this next group of students that would come my way. I was enlivened. Invigorated. Ready!
But somewhere along the line, the realities of 24 students with differing needs, personalities and decision-making skills as well as school and district expectations came crashing down. For convenience sake, let’s call all of this September. The realities of September have landed heavily on all those summer aspirations. Much of the audacious hope of August has started to buckle under the crush of behaviors, assessments and the frantic pace of “getting everything done”.
Years of compliance-based learning the root of frustration?
Some of the awesome instructional shifts and classroom management shifts have seemed to confuse or confound students (and frustrate their teacher). In many ways, these students have never been asked to learn like this. They’ve never been asked to take control of their learning, to be risk takers or to embrace mistakes for the positive outcomes they can bring. They’ve never had to collaborate and communicate with peers in sustained ways. As I consider ditching the shifts to go back to what is familiar or putting my head down and powering through to what I believe is possible, I wonder if a few years of compliance-based learning is the root of the frustrations and lack of immediate success? Are these just growing pains that will fade? Or will this persist? Every child is unique and every group of students is different, but has the way they’ve been taught in the past created rigidity in their expectations of “school”?
Perhaps October will bring answers and optimism and not horrors unrelated to Halloween.