It was an interesting week with reflection. While I did enjoy David Burgess’ Teach Like a Pirate, and the hangout that she shared with us, I’ll admit… it made me kind of sad. Not because of the content itself! But because of the hard memories it brought up. I used to teach creatively and encourage innovation in my classroom like that. When I graduated college, I was chock full of ideas and adored hands-on learning. But my communication skills was parents was very weak and my administrator was a frustrated man who decided his best way of control was micromanaging. It’s a bit of a long story, but the end result is I was knocked down to stop being creative; to just follow the curriculum and to push worksheets. When I read books like Burgess’, I’m first angry because it validates that I was correct, but too inexperienced to take a proper stand; and then I’m sad because of what I have lost. I am appreciating these types of classes, and having built a PLN, because I’m slowly coming back to the teacher I once was, but even better because I have more experience and wisdom now.
When I brought the question about administrators with opposing views up to the Twitter and then the hangout, it was nice to know that so many teachers have supportive administrators. Good! I’m glad that they sound like the majority; and I’m pleased that I have experienced one myself. However, as coaches who will be supporting teachers, it will be important to be prepared for when that may not be the case. How do WE help inexperienced teachers who are blooming with creativity, but the administrator looks upon them with a critical eye? Action research was suggested as a solution for justifying out-of-the-box teaching. If we as coaches can help teachers to keep an eye on results and accumulate the data into a presentable bundle, we would go far into helping to change what education looks like.
I also put forth the question about how you create learning experiences across the board in your classroom when you teach multiple content areas, such as elementary grades. Again, I really appreciate having a PLN. It was freeing to know that there are others like me, who don’t have the specific answers, but we’re still looking for that balance. We seemed to agree that it’s okay not to have “moonlandings” or “speakeasies” for every single subject or lesson. But to continue to add to our cool lesson repertoires and be ready to pull out what works for the situation. Because we don’t have the same classes from year to year, not even the same grades; so what works for one year, may not work for the next.
So while some aspects of this week were a little painful, it was empowering to reflect and see where I’ve come from. I love this network or support that just wants to see students become learners. Thanks everybody!