I can still remember the exact place I was standing as David drove out of the parking lot of my family’s coffee shop.
“That boy loves you.” My mom and dad were adamant on this point. Just as determined, I responded. “No, we are JUST friends.”
When deciding between college majors and what grade levels to teach, I weighed all the options and came to the conclusion to teach High School English. I based my decision on two assumptions: As a high school teacher I would never have to teach any one to read, and older students would come to me knowing how to respect personal space.
My first year teaching I made my freshman students read every word on every page of The Call of the Wild, Romeo & Juliet, The Odyssey, Fahrenheit 451, Lord of the Flies, the majority of short stories in the text book and a slew of poems. Every word. I just knew that their sophomore teacher would want to build on all that background knowledge. I was sure that you couldn’t be a productive citizen without being able to have a meaningful discussion about the similarities of theme and characterization in dystopian literature.
I spent countless hours pouring over essays, short answer questions, narratives and research papers. Literal years of my life that I will never get back. I corrected every grammar mistake. I commented and revised. I mended spliced up sentences. After all, when students see how much effort you have put into this masterpiece they will incorporate all of this feedback into their own writing practice.
I went through a whole phase where I put together all of these crazy guided notes. You know, the ones where __________ only have to _______attention long enough to pick up ______ or two key ________. A sure fire strategy to encourage engagement as I talked for entire class periods.
Y’all. I tried to write assessments in SPANISH. I don’t speak Spanish. But this would be a better option than inconveniencing others or asking for help.
No. Just NO.
As I look back on my years in education and beyond the scope of my career, into my life, it is hard to deny the power of CHANGING YOUR MIND. Changing your mind involves CHANGE. As we learn and grow our relationships, ideas, strategies, and sometimes paradigms shift and stretch, are torn down and rebuilt.
Change is at the heart of innovation.
It is both the catalyst and the result.
Because of change we find ourselves in need of inventive thinking and new iterations of successful and failed efforts. And because of innovation, we are faced with the inevitability of change.
Change is the constant, always in the mix, with or without our permission, despite our best efforts, caused by our choices, influenced by our surroundings, as a function of time.
If change is the constant, then choice is the variable: How we respond to change, if we initiate change, do we run from change, will we fight the change, can we accept the change, how we can be the change.
When I think about the future of education, and the impact that innovation will have on my practice and our students, I feel confronted by the need to evaluate my relationship with change. I feel compelled to assess my own ability to live and work in a space where growth is honored and I give myself, and those around me, the permission to change our minds.
I have more than enough evidence of the positive impact a “change of mind” can have:
- I have been married to the boy who (still) loves me for 18 years.
- I learned how to teach a student how to read in my first year in education, and am so glad that I had this skill as so many secondary students have learned to fake it, but are not making it without a firm foundation in basic reading.
- I coached cheerleading for 10 years, which eliminated all expectations I ever had of anyone recognizing or honoring my “bubble” of personal space, and my relationships with those space-invading girls are some of the most precious “things” in my life.
- As it turned out, my first year freshman students looped with me and I became their Sophomore English teacher, and then their Junior English teacher. I didn’t really need them to have read every word on every page, I needed them to be able to think on their own.
- After years of revising and editing practice, the grammar was impeccable. My grammar. I discovered ways to help my students own their writing and revision.
- Guided notes are _______. This method did not empower or engage my students, but gave me license to remain the “sage on the stage”. Now I know that we should facilitate learning and guide notetakers.
- Assessments in Spanish. Just no. Who was I kidding, everyone wanted to help me. All of my colleagues were willing to collaborate and co-own these assessments and this learning for students and teachers. Asking for help is imperative, not optional.
So blessed that the first thought is not the final. So grateful that in every iteration, of myself and my practice, I have grown through the change not diminished because of it. So hopeful as I look ahead to discovering the next version, the 2.0, the change that is on the horizon.
Still learning: to change my mind, to think, to grow, to move, to innovate…