This post was originally published by Matt Drewette-Card (Twitter: @DrewetteCard)
I walked into my school today to hear the sounds of kids. Lots of kids. Nervous tears of new Kindergarteners.. Middle schoolers laughing, reconnecting, and recollecting inside jokes. Excitement. Chatter. Curiosity.
And then there were the teachers.
Hearing the sound of true joy from a teacher as s/he is meeting the children for the first time. The smiles and sympathetic faces, helping confused, lost, or worried kids find their way to their home-away-from-home for the next nine months. High fives. Nervous energy. Anticipation. Excitement. Chatter. Curiosity.
Education is a big job. Teaching is hard to quantify, and being a teacher is even harder. If we were to remove the reason we show up everyday (the kids), the mountain of challenges, obstacles, and requirements we face remain enormous… overwhelming, even. I heard last year someone say (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Our plates were full, so they dumped the stuff on our plate onto a platter to make it not look as full. Well, guess what… now our platter is full. What’s next?”
I can sympathize. I can empathize. Even though I’m out of the classroom now and serve as a district administrator, the metaphor of “building the plane while flying it” holds ever so true in our profession. There’s so much to do. Never enough time. So much to process. Never enough time. So much to create, design, assess, monitor, evaluate, predict, judge, research, and investigate. Oh, and then implement. And then do it all again. And while we’re teaching (hence the building while flying metaphor). What makes it harder, is a silo-mentality and approach to the myriad of tasks that need accomplishing. When our lives get boiled down to nothing more than a “checklist,” purpose gets lost. We are here because we love kids; we love learning. And the other stuff shouldn’t get in the way of that.
So, it’s with that in mind, I present my two major themes of school year 2015-2016. Everything I do will relate to these two themes to make our lives more effective.
Education, teaching, and learning doesn’t have to be “hard.” Sure, at times it will be, but at everything’s core is a simple hope/concept/dream/idea. Let’s find that simplicity. Let’s drill down and get to the core of the issue, and work there. When the details make things messy, get down to the simple. Everything has a simple core. Everything. And once we find it, we can breathe a lot easier, have a lot more fun, and in the process, improve what we do.
If everything we do deals with teaching and learning, then everything we do should connect. Even if we walk into our rooms, shut our doors to the world, and focus on our kids, what we are doing is connected to a bigger picture; a larger idea; a scope and a sequence that we can simultaneously plan for and be unable to anticipate. Connecting our practice to learning to the greater global community is now easier than it has been in human history. Not only should we connect with ourselves and our practice, but with each other. If we teach all kids, then all does not stop at our door.