In my first year of teaching, I was a US History teacher. That meant I had to cover a lot of really interesting topics like reforms, wars, Civil Rights, and...farming.
Don't get me wrong, farming is vital and important to survival, and farmers are an integral part of our society. But the lessons are not the most interesting.
And so it was in the midst of one of these lessons, I bored myself. It was not the looks on the faces of the sleepy students, it was my own total lack of interest in what I was saying.
From that day on, I asked myself this question: "Would I take my own classes?" Not about content, not about curriculum, but about instruction.
See, I was not presenting the material in an engaging way. I was just going through the material. And it does not matter how much you love your content or how interesting the topic is- if you are not minding your instructional practices, you will bore your students and yourself. Here are a few ideas to bring life to lessons that I have used:
Video Clips- I love using funny videos to add to the lesson. In my psychology and sociology classes, I often use clips from Friends or the Office to use humor to help students connect to the concepts. Even using viral videos- one of my favorites is the lizard vs snakes video from BBC's Planet Earth series- can add to the relevance of the lesson.
Discussion- The more students get to share their viewpoints, the more they feel connected to the class and the teacher. And if you let students ask the questions, then they take even more ownership. There is a crucial piece here that we must not neglect- students must feel safe to share. That means that as teachers, we cannot quickly shut down their ideas. We must correct when there is error in fact, but when students share opinions that differ from our own, that is OK. Do not fear controversy in discussion- welcome it as a chance to debate in a safe space.
Debate: Students love to argue. Set up positions and have students discuss. In US History, I had students defend the Trail of Tears and another group propose an alternative- it exposed both sides to learning that would never have happened without a debate. I will also have students argue from the point of view that they disagree with to broaden their own perspective.
Simulations- I have done Poverty Simulations the last few years in Sociology. This exercise allows students to experience real world ideas in a classroom. I have done role-playing reviews and charades to let students act out the concepts they learn in class. It works really well for visual and kinesthetic learners to engage in these activities.
Art-I enjoy drawing. But I am not good at it. But I will use what I call "stick figure lessons" to illustrate points. For example, I used something like this below for teaching the battle of Thermopylae.
Why art works for engaging the class is that it is personal and it is visual. Both create connections for students and they are fun!
Take Time- Sometimes, you just need a day to catch up or relax as an adult. So do students. It is OK to have some days or to set aside some times where you build relationships in a non-content specific way. My classes will sometimes have days where we just talk, we engage each other. It builds relationships which are foundational to learning.
I challenge you to ask yourself- "Would you take your class?"
Reflect on your instructional practices- we live in a time where our content is readily available to any student who wants to access it. Our job has become about getting students interested in learning, not about delivering the information.
So, how are you delivering a love for learning?
About this time last year, I sat down to lunch with Kelly Kovacs and Shannon Long from Central Office in CSISD. Our topic was the progress on LEADS, a student leadership empowerment initiative that we had been working on for the last six months. One by one, the members of the team had been called away to other duties or simply moved on, and the three of us were all that was left. And now they too were being called away to other duties.
I believed in this program, and I needed something of significance to invest my energies in, so I asked if I could continue to develop the program. They said yes. I asked if I could build my team. They said yes. And with that, I was off.
Today, twenty CSISD 5th-8th graders- that will now be called Ambassadors- walked into the Transportation Conference room for the first ever LEADS meeting, #LEADSLaunch we called it. Campuses represented included Cypress Grove Intermediate, Pecan Trail Intermediate, A&M Consolidated Middle, College Station Middle, and Wellborn Middle schools. Our LEADS Innovators- our teacher supporters- included myself, Amy Powell (CG), Deidre Merseal (PT), Javan Cashaw and Emily Harding (AMCMS), Christie Brod and Eric Zylman (CSMS), and Bunny Muncie and Jill Butler (WMS).
We greeted the Ambassadors and introduced ourselves, then asked them to do the same.
This was the moment- would they freeze up, balk at the intro, or would the shells crack and leaders begin to emerge.
The shells cracked. The Ambassadors shared their names and what they hoped to get from LEADS, each becoming more and more confident as they shared.
I spoke of the vision of LEADS, and also defined leadership and Ambassador- they are representative of not just themselves, their campus and LEADS, but all of CSISD. They carry a weight, but it is shared by their fellow Ambassadors and by the Innovators as well. I told them they were breaking new ground- being the first to do something that could have tremendous impact.
And many of them shared visions for changing not just one small aspect of their campus, but of changing the culture.
We built some spaghetti towers. Then they fell over. And we learned lessons about communication, structural integrity, and that failure is OK. And that failure is possible- even with LEADS. But that if their plan doesn't work, one Ambassador shared -"Well, then we learned what not to do!" (That was a great moment!)
Merseal and Brod walked the Ambassadors through the True Colors Personality test, and the Ambassadors learned about their diversity of perspectives. They learned that each of their personalities had strengths and weaknesses, but that working together would lead to better success.
Powell challenged Ambassadors to find and use their voice. Ambassadors explored how communication is more than spoken and written words, it is body language, timing, and intent. They learned the power of listening to speak better.
Zylman then talked the Ambassadors through servant leadership, providing models from Ghandi to Jesus to Yoda. See, Yoda is always teaching, even in a lightsaber battle. If our Ambassadors are going to change the cultures of their campuses, then they must serve them with humility.
Then we ate lunch.
The afternoon activity exposed Ambassadors to a problem- students sitting alone at lunch. As a part of the gallery walk activity, Ambassadors had been putting post-its on posters for "What makes a leader?" "Barriers to Communication" and now how to solve the lonely lunch situation.
As the Ambassadors got into their campus groups to work- many quickly realized the issue was deeper than just sitting alone at lunch. It had to go to loneliness at school in general, it had to go beyond surface level discussions, it had to go beyond simply physically being near a person while they consumed lunch. See, almost everyone knew someone who ate alone, or hid out in a teacher's room. More than a handful had themselves felt the weight of a lonely lunch.
The Ambassadors then created a video to explain their solution to our group, then will further develop their video to potentially share on their campus as the first LEADS project.
We closed the day with the challenge that Ambassadors be able to explain to their peers just what LEADS is- to be, you know, Ambassadors.
I have planned many events in my adult life, but never has so much time gone into one thing. Over a year and a half of planning from inception to launch. And as I stood in the empty room at the close of the day, I felt content. I felt proud of my Innovators for their work and their heart for these students. I was impressed greatly by the Ambassadors' steps already taken to impact their campuses after just one day.
I felt certain that the vision is just getting started.
Nothing makes you stop like an unexpected obituary.
Last night, while getting ready for bed after a long day of inservice, meetings, and spending time with some college students my wife and I mentor, I scrolled down Facebook to see my freshman Bible Study leader Norman Hogue had passed away. He was forty.
Shock is all I could feel. I had not been in contact regularly with him since college, but over the years we would chat at reunions- the last of which was just a couple years ago.
As I read down the posts on his page- trying to grasp the reality of his passing, I was struck by his significance. Every post spoke of his character, his love of family and friends, his memorable personality traits. I remember Norman, as a college student, coming to my father's funeral along with about a dozen other Aggie friend.
His was- by all accounts- a life of significance.
I was awoken at three a.m. this morning, and due to processing his passing, and processing my admittedly staggering amount of responsibilities that seem to keep piling up (and only partly because I choose them) I started to think about why anyone does what they do in life.And I kept coming back to one word:
We all want to matter. To know that we left an imprint on at least one person. I believe that even the most introverted, hide-out-in-the-mountains-away-from-people deep down wants to feel of some value. That when someone reaches their end of patience and strength- at the heart of their struggle with life is a desire to know they matter.
I chose teaching because I wanted to make a difference. To matter. To have significance. And if I am being candid- I choose to do so much, to pursue innovation, to seek to become an administrator, to challenge the status quo because I want to do something of significance. I want to reach as many people as I can and make a difference in their lives.
At the end of the day, I want to know that I will leave an impact.
I do not think I am unique in this desire at all.
A class clown wants to make an impact. A star student wants to make an impact. The troublemaker wants to make an impact. The scientist, the artist, the athlete, even the wallflower wants to be remembered when they move on.
Earlier in the day, while meeting with my LEADS Innovators, two of them shared a story about one of our soon to be Ambassadors. According to Emily and Javan, this student was on the track to making an impact- just not a good one. Another teacher, earlier this year, approached the young man and simply yet eloquently questioned his choice of friends. "Wise people hang with wise people. Fools hang with fools. Who are you hanging with?" That simple question was a moment of significance for this student. I do not know who the educator is- but they are significant to me, too.
I want to be significant. Yes, because I want to know that I matter. But I also want to be significant in the way that that teacher was to our soon to be ambassador- to be significant in the lives of others in a way that changes their lives.
Norman Hogue changed my life in some ways. He obviously impacted a lot of other people, too. My hope is that I can be of significance to the lives of those around me- be they friends, family, students, or fellow educators.
That is why I strive, why I reach.
Why I press on.
Would you rather be in Shawshank Redemption or Braveheart?
I don't know that I have ever had a conversation where someone wished they could be Andy Dufresne- but I have definitely heard many folks wish they could be William Wallace. Which is odd, because Andy gets away, but William dies.
Both stories are about freedom, and ultimately the protagonists get freedom. But the prison imagery is not one we want to subject ourselves to in our fantasies, while riding freely across the Scottish Highlands to fight tyranny is.
Now, place yourself in your role as an educator. Would you rather create an experience for your students that is more Shawshank, or more Scottish independence?
I truly hope you choose Scotland, and if you do, there is a key mindset shift you have to develop as an educator.
Are you a Warden, or a Warrior?
Both are about control- about order. But they go about handling that in different ways. I believe that the Warden mentality is the one that has historically been present in many school systems- one that seeks to create conformity over individualized strengths. Warriors seek to create a collaborative environment for mutual success. So, what does that look like in practice?
Wardens expect bad behavior, Warriors cultivate good behavior
I have seen and heard many teachers in my life say this phrase: "Kids are so irresponsible." I have been guilty myself. I have also experienced educators that seem to expect the worst from students in an effort to 'be prepared.' That is a Warden attitude.
Warriors will know that bad behavior will exist, but actively work to train students with positive behavior modifications. They will not sigh, shake their head and say "About what I expected" when a student makes a mistake- they will work with the student to shape future choices.
Wardens stand above, Warriors stand with
A Warden will stand above their charges literally AND figuratively. They will put a physical distance between themselves and students. But more significantly, they will distance themselves from students emotionally. They will expect students to share and engage, but they will not reciprocate. They will be on their phone during duty time instead of interacting with students. Wardens know all about their students, but their students know little about them. This can lead to resentment on the part of the student, which in turn leads to a double down on the Warden's side.
Conversely, a Warrior stands with the students. They walk among them, chatting, connecting and being present. Warriors will share their heart- with boundaries, obviously- so that students can know the human behind the teacher. When things get tough, the student does not need to run to a Warrior, the Warrior is with them already. The Warrior will also stand between the student and a Warden- defending and advocating for the student.
Wardens hate their job, Warriors revel in it
Wardens never smile. They complain about hours and pay and respect and then take it out on students.
Warriors never stop smiling. Sure, they have bad days, but they know that long hours and poor pay are pale in comparison to the joy of seeing student success.
Wardens fight with, Warriors fight for
A Warden picks a fight. Sad to say, there are some educators who see education as a battle against unwilling students to comply. Oh, they would never say this, but their actions show it. Condescension, harshness, lack of empathy, even embarrassing a student to prove a point. Wardens are teacher bullies, and yes, they do exist. Wardens end up creating problems for themselves because of how they treat students- as targets, not learners.
A Warrior is in the trenches of the day to day trying to help students win. They are the admins that take a second to speak to the emotional need of a student instead of coldly addressing a violation without regard for reasoning. They are the teachers who spend their lunch time tutoring. They are the paras that will do ANYTHING for their students.
So, which are you?
The next time you begin an interaction with your students, ask yourself- Shawshank or Scotland? Do you want your students to feel they are trapped in a prison of school, or fighting to free the knowledge and skills that waiting to be learned?
I got to be admin for a day today, and I was looking forward to sitting in with principals on disciplinary actions and fetching students and maybe fielding some phone calls.
Instead I was tasked with counting every desk in the school.
CSHS is a school of over 2,000 students, just under 100 classrooms, four FLEX labs, and three portables with 6 classrooms.
I was at first, disappointed. I was expecting one thing, but then got another. I had to count the rooms because there was a need to have it done quickly and a simple email request would not be as effective.
So, I set out to do it.
At first, it really was just counting desks, but quickly I realized this was a beautiful opportunity.
I would get to set foot, in an administrative role, in every class on campus in one day. Positive interactions with teachers and students all over campus on their turf, not mine.
It was an amazing day.
I saw several students multiple times- students I did not know struck up conversations with me because they had seen me in their class and I was smiling. I did joke that I was doing this and it might be a "prank the sub admin" thing, which was a hit.
But at the end of the day, I had more than 14,000 steps- I had an insight to my campus that is fresh and new. I got to joke with students and teachers and they got to see me as someone approachable. Instead of sitting in discipline meetings, I got to be in a place to remind me why we do it.
I’m not an admin yet, but I learned today that being in the classroom will give you the fuel you need for those tougher interactions.
So I challenge my administrator friends: Set aside one day this month, get an admin sub if you need to- and go to every class on campus. Count desks if you need to, but be seen in the classroom with a smile and no agenda other than getting to know your school better.
It will change your perspective and that is a good step to take.
Two farmers lived side by side.
One walked out to his fields and poured the seeds on top of the ground and left them to grow.
The other took time to hook up a plow, and go and till the soil. Once the earth was broken, he sowed the seed in the broken dirt.
At harvest time, the first farmer reaped some crops- the hardiest seed had taken root and grown, pretty much despite the farmer.
The second farmer reaped a full crop- having first prepared the soil for the seeds.
Every educator knows that relationships matter.
But knowing and acting on knowledge are NOT the same thing.
When I was younger, before I taught in schools, I believed that it was the content that mattered, not the relationship. To be fair to myself, I was a minister at the time, and was attempting to diminish my role in my congregations spiritual development.
While content absolutely matters in education, it does not matter to our students.
In the parable, the content is the seed, the students the soil. Many of us are the first farmer- we toss out content expecting it to take root on its own merit. Some of the content we share finds its way into the soil and takes root. But it relies on a method that means only the strongest content and only the most accepting students will connect for learning.
We have a lot of content to go through. I added World History to my classes this year, meaning I have to cover all of human history in 36 weeks. That is a lot of seed to sow. But I still endeavor to act as the second farmer- I till the soil first so that the content can take root.
Our plow is relationship building. For me, that means discussion and conversation. I have done student led discussion to open my debate, sociology and psychology classes for the last two years, and now it is a part of a core content area- world history. I believe it is having a the same effect as tilled soil- knowledge is taking root and growing.
See, when soil is tilled, it is not simply opened up for knowledge, it is mingled in with the soil around it. Class discussion not only opens minds, it mingles them. Students share themselves with teachers and with each other, and learning can become collaborative.
This is the tilled soil of a learner-centered classroom.
My children decided to be born early in the morning, after a long night of not being born. So my recollection of their births is tainted a bit by time and a lot by exhaustion (nothing compared to what my wife experienced- to be clear!).
But I do remember this. My children were born in a room designed to usher new life into the world. There was space for doctors and nurses to work, tools to check their health and tools to quickly address any concerns, and of course the right furniture to address the needs of the delivery process.
Delivery rooms are designed with purpose. Walk into one, and you know immediately why the room exists. Intentionality is dripping from the walls.
Now, walk into a classroom, and what does it tell you? Does it convey that ideas are born here? Or does it tell you that this is where standardization reigns supreme?
I believe that a classroom should be a delivery room of ideas. Space must be created for students to collaborate, find and use necessary tools, and for urgent needs to be addressed. Creating that space could mean physical spaces using flexible seating or simply intentional design when it comes to decor and seating arrangement.
Creating a space should also- or at its core- be cultural, philosophical, and relational. No matter how well designed a room is physically, if the cultural, philosophical, and relational culture is not present, ideas will be stillborn. Students need to know they can share their ideas and be heard. Students also need to develop the skills to critique and receive criticism of their ideas so that they can refine and develop them. Ideas are born in the collective, and we need to create interactions to foster that.
Ideas are also born out of what looks like chaos. Sometimes, idea birth is scary because it means letting go of some of the control . A student may have an idea that scares you because it is new, different, or not the way you would have done it. And maybe that is for the best. After all, if the old way of doing it is not the best for someone, why not dream up a new way?
Additionally, the Delivery Room of Ideas is not just the classroom, it is the campus. Those delivering ideas may be teachers or administrators. When I read about or see stories on places like Ron Clark Academy or this school in Houston, I see these as delivery rooms of ideas- from students AND educators.
I want to challenge you to think intentionally about the spaces you create. Design Delivery Rooms of Ideas- a place to bring new life and innovation to the world. And for motivation check out this great TED Talk:
Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.
- Harold S. Geneen
The art of communication is the language of leadership.
Teaching debate classes will inevitably lead to discussions of leadership. Communication is how one leads, after all. And debate is really arguing- it is persuasion.
Over the last few years it has become clear to me that our students are keenly aware of what leadership is and is not- but are consistently confused to see those labeled "leaders" amongst their peers, faculty, community, country and world not demonstrating it. They are frustrated, they feel as though a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality is pervasive amongst "leaders."
I share their frustration.
As an educator, I watch the government at the state and national level talk of the importance of education while ignoring the plight of the educator. I have spoken with other educators from around my state who have administrations that want "innovation," but only when it matches their concept of innovation. I see students broken over their peers who are "leaders" yet behave inappropriately and see no consequences.
So, we need to have a talk.
We need to talk about promises...
Just last week, the governor of Texas talked about raising teacher salaries to the six figure mark. Collectively, we Texas teachers rolled our eyes. We know this is not real, and even if it is, there is ABSOLUTELY a catch. See, that promise stands in stark contrast to the ACTIONS of our state government. One that has cut funding so that some school districts essentially get ZERO financial support from the state. My district is one of them. But, hey, it is an election year, so, this is to be expected.
Where are the politicians that will actually support, defend, and FIGHT FOR public education? Without the catch?
But politicians are easy targets. Educators make hollow promises as well. Have we not had administrators that promise support, but get busy? Who offer opportunities for growth because we want to grow professionally, but do not follow through? Have we not BEEN the educator who promises our students to be on top of lessons and grading and communication- but then we weren't? Who promise equity- true equity, not the buzzword version going around- but fall back into giving disproportionately to the same students?
Our students have learned that when their peers promise an end to homework to get elected class president that it is false and hollow. They see us doing the same thing. They are savvy. They are wise beyond their years. So we need to FOLLOW THROUGH on our promises as adults. And when we inevitably fail to do so (we all do)- we need to OWN IT. We need to apologize and seek to restore that trust, not brush it under the rug of the past.
We need to talk about the WHY...
TEKS. STAAR. T-TESS.
Expectations. Rules. Standards.
Homework. Goals. Seating.
Why do we do these things?
Our campus has embraced the need to explain the WHY to our students when it comes to expectations and rules. But I think it is time to take a deeper dive into the WHY of state standards, of why we sometimes practice equity poorly, of why sometimes it looks like we have and practice double standards. Because again, our students see it.
Our politicians need to explain why they do what they do- regarding standards and school funding. Our administrators should explain why they make the tough decisions. It is incumbent on teachers to explain the WHY to their students- call it relevance if you like. I just think it is demonstrating respect to students as human beings to explain the purpose of assignments and expectations.
We need to talk about Integrity...
I mentioned earlier that we know our politicians are lying when they make promises. That right there is why we struggle to find integrity in all levels of leadership. It seems that we EXPECT dishonesty, selfish ambition, and cutting corners. Integrity is about holding ourselves to a higher standard.
Making a mistake means owning it- not hiding it.
Breaking a rule means facing a consequence- not hiding it.
Getting caught in a lie means admitting it and seeking to correct it- not hiding it.
When students see their peers who are leaders get treated differently- getting softer, lesser or no consequences- it conveys to them that with great power comes no responsibility. They lose trust in their student leaders, and by extension their adult leaders. It creates an avalanche of cynicism into their adulthood that leads to believe as we do- leaders cannot be trusted.
We CANNOT let this generation drink that poison.
We need to hold ourselves to better standards. We need to face the consequences when we fail. We need to model integrity- doing the right thing even when it is not easy or popular. We need to hold our student leaders to higher standards and not dismiss moral failures because "they are usually pretty good kids."
We need to take Actions...
Talk is cheap.
And when we just talk, and never act, our students see our hypocrisy.
So, today, when you read this, do something. Follow through on a promise. Explain and MODEL a why. Show integrity- and celebrate it when you see it in others.
Really, we do not need to talk about leadership- we need to start DOING it.
That is what was spent on my two kids' school supplies this year. Throw in their backpacks, and it is closer to $250. We have not yet bought school clothes, and having just had a decently costly knee surgery, bought a house and had a car brake light (the one that you have to get a part from the dealer and not Auto Zone) go out as I was getting the car inspected- it may be a bit.
All this was in my head as I checked out at Target, the first of two baskets we had of paper and pens and stuff. But there was something else.
I am thankful.
Thankful that I can buy my kids supplies- even with the other stuff. Sure, it stretches our two teacher household paycheck more than I like or am comfortable with. But I can do it.
In a couple weeks, I will have students who cannot. I will have students who also cannot afford decent meals. I will have students who will not have parents willing or able to help them when they struggle on home work. I will have students who are sick, or have been abused, or been bullied, or have made mistakes that are coming back to haunt them. I will have students that are being abused by they peers- or used by them. I will have students that fear going home- or have none to go to.
There is a growing buzzword in education called "equity." Used correctly, it is an effort to address the issues in the paragraph above. Unfortunately, it is being used to tell teachers to "follow the plan" so one class does not feel they get a cool assignment while the others do not.
But I want to talk about the real equity. The one that matters.
How do we create equity when the field is so uneven? When abuse meets poverty meets stability meets illness meets guilt meets successful meets popular meets depressed?
I just returned from the grocery store where I bought the last vanilla ice cream so my kids could have root beer floats. The package was damaged, so the cashier asked if I wanted a different one. I explained it was the last one, he bagged it, and I went home. That mentality is necessary for retail- get rid of the damaged product. It's the mentality in almost everything in the world except good families and education.
To me, the ice cream carton was damaged, not the contents. If I was looking at the cartons and there had been more than one, I would have ignored the damaged one and taken another.
As educators, we cannot ignore the damaged carton because it is lesser.
And we cannot neglect the pristine carton either to devote all our time to the damaged.
If we want to create equity in the classroom, there is only one way.
Student voice that leads to empowerment.
We cannot create this as educators, we can merely encourage and equip it.
The depressed student has a voice.
The abused student has a voice.
The successful student has a voice.
The homeless kid has a voice.
The rich kid has a voice.
They need to be ALLOWED to use it. They need to be EQUIPPED on how. And they need to be EMPOWERED to enact it.
For the last year, I have lead an initiative in my district. I have recruited a team of educators and together we have developed a program called LEADS that will launch this year. It is a tool- we hope- that will help create equity. We will be leading a session at College Station ISD's You Matter this Friday, but in the meantime, here is our promo video:
As I checked out with my kids' school supplies and thought of all the kids that will struggle to pay for theirs, I hoped not that I could create equity for those students, but that I could help equip my students to fight for true equity- that through LEADS, or-better yet- through their own initiative they will serve those around them that have a need.
That they would consider others as greater than themselves.
Then I remembered that for them to learn that lesson- I need to first model it by serving others.
This will be the second in a series of blogs on things I learned from life and how they apply to life. The first is here: didacticchad.weebly.com/home/edu-life-lessons-injury
Moving is tough.
Even when it is a good thing, it is tedious, exhausting and hot. Especially when moving in Texas. In May-July.
This summer, I moved in three different ways- I moved out, I moved around, and I moved up.
I will start with the saddest parts of moving- when you leave. I spent the last couple days helping one of my best friends move out of their home and away from College Station. It hurts to see people we love leave, and at the same time, we are excited for their new journey. There is a mix of emotions that adds to the normal stress of moving out. When we moved out of our old home, I felt some of this- we were leaving where memories were made, experiences shared, and dreams birthed. But we where not leaving our town. Our friends are not just moving out, they are moving on (super secret 4th type of move coming up later).
Our students and fellow teachers move out as well. They leave their rooms yet sometimes stay in the same building. Things are mostly the same, but still different. We see them less, relationships change, and there is excitement yet sorrow at the loss of what once was.
As educational practice goes, we have to move out of doing things a certain way. We have to leave behind well developed lessons when standards change. We have to finally acknowledge that overhead projectors are NOT dynamic presentations. We have to accept that the way we learned it is not how our students learned it. So at the very least, we have to move around.
For the last two years, I have been in the basement of my school with limited interaction with other teachers.
This was not punishment.
I got the chance to move up to the second floor for next year which means some changes. Most notably for me- my Vitamin D levels should go back up as I will get some sunlight. It also means I need to alter my coffeehouse classroom design somewhat. Not a total overhaul, but adjust must be made. The first was the coffeebar lost the bookshelf backing. Mostly because there was no way I was taking a massive solid wood bookshelf up essentially three floors. Now it will be a window seat for students.
As educators, we sometimes move around. We teach new content areas, we try new things, but we are essentially rearranging the furniture a bit. We do not leave our school, maybe not even our room, but things are a bit different. This can be an exciting move, one that we choose to pursue to keep things fresh. Or, it may be mandated- in which case you still need to try to find a way to make the changes your own. Moving Around is a great way to take ownership of your educational career.
The final move I experienced was also the first move I did this summer. Or rather, moves. We moved into storage, then into a new house.
This is not recommended.
Moving Up is awesome. You move into something you define as better- perhaps bigger or newer or with something you never had before. For us, it was a spot to put the trashcan in the cabinets.
We have been using our pantry for ten years. My wife and I still go to the pantry at least once a day to throw out trash because one of the toughest parts about moving up is that you have to learn a new role.
That is true in education. I hope to move up to administration someday- and if I do, I cannot do some things the way I do them now. As a classroom teacher, my "trashcan" is in the "pantry" but as an admin, it is in the "cabinet." For me, this will be how I handle discipline. It will evolve somewhat- become more intensive and have more weight behind it, but it must still hold onto the soul of how I do it now- by focusing on relationship. See, I still put the trash in the trashcan, I do not change that key part of life when I moved up.
Finally, Moving On
I am not moving on. But someday, I might. To a new campus, a new district, a new state- even a new career. When I move on, it will not be sans all the things I have collected over time. I will take the things that matter with me.
When we Move On in education, remember to take the things that matter. The notes from parents and students, the relationships built, the memories made.
Take the things that have made you who you are- and they will move on with you.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.