I have that personality trait that doesn’t easily allow me to step outside my comfort zone. I don’t like change because I fear failure. I go by the notion of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I like becoming good at something, and then sticking with it. If I have to change things, then I may not be good at it. I may not understand it, and that worries me. This year I have been forced to step outside of my comfort zone in a couple of different ways. I struggled with it at first, but I think I may just becoming okay with it.
Basically in all the subjects I teach this year I have had to change some things. I have been forced to teach in a different way, and that doesn’t always sit easy with me. I tend to make excuses and have that fixed mindset that doesn’t allow me to accept that change. In math, we switched to Eureka math. Another change in our math curriculum. They seem never ending! In reading, I had to do these books clubs that really didn’t make any sense to me at first. Now that I have started them, they are actually pretty cool and I feel like the kids are truly benefiting from them. Every time I get comfortable with something, it changes! What I have failed to accept, is times are changing. Kids are changing. I have to change. I actually enjoy the new math, even though it challenges the kids like never before. I think that is good for them. It forces them to think deeper, and that should be what education is all about.
That was the easy one though. In social studies, we basically were told to just figure it out this year. They gave us the standards that needed to be hit, but that was it. Luckily for me I have amazing colleagues (yeah that’s you Butter and Murph), that pushed me into coming up with some cool ideas. We came up with some sweet lesson plans that the kids really enjoyed, and it turned out pretty perfect. Then what else but change happened again! We went to a workshop with the woman who helped create ALL of the standards for social studies in Illinois. She’s good! She told us about this new “inquiry” model of teaching, and told us how amazing it was. She made it sound so simple. WTH! Another change. I don’t know how to do this! So I did what I do best, I resisted. I got that fixed mindset thing going again, and thought well maybe next year….true Cubs fan. Once again my colleagues pushed me to try it. We have no idea what we are doing, but we are doing it. We were told that each time we teach this, the students may go in completely different directions. They are supposed to choose what they are learning…WHAT?? I am not comfortable with that. How does that even work? Well we are doing it, and so far, it is working. I think. I guess we will know more at the end, but the best part is, who cares if it doesn’t work out perfectly. We will learn as we go and adjust as needed. The kids are responding well and I think that this may just work. We have some fun things planned for them and I think they will end up really enjoying it.
I have learned a lot this year. Maybe more than I have in the last few years. It is all because I have been pushed out of that comfort zone. I have been forced to accept it, but that is okay. I have to learn to go with the flow, and change as the kids change. I look at NCAA basketball as my guidelines. These amazing coaches who have coached for 30 plus years have had to completely change the way the recruit and coach because of the one and done rule. They also have a totally different type of kid to work with. I see them change and realize if they are capable of that, then I can too. I am actually kind of excited to try these new things. I may fail, but that’s okay too. I will learn from that.
Then to the biggest change coming up. New partner next year after ten years with the same one. We may have to get into that at a later post.