For the first time, I sat in a department meeting of a school that was not my home. In my current edu assignment, I’ll do many more of these visits across multiple campuses. I envisioned myself in the role of the teacher attendee…doodling, sort of ignoring directives, rolling my eyes and thinking about the kids in my room who needed my attention much more than the whine-fest that was our meeting. I then remembered my life, one year ago, as the person leading those meetings and watching the battered faces of the educators that I saw.
I had a few realizations…
- Meetings should be more conversational. We wonder why teachers feel beat down. Here’s a clue…in most cases, they are absent of a voice. Someone is always talking at and not including their input or ideas. The department chair should not “run” the meeting but should facilitate the conversations. Admins shouldn’t be there overseeing or overtaking those meetings. Empowered teacher leaders should be trusted to facilitate this process with the goal of student learning being the focus. Teachers should not meet just to say that they met but to share in ideas to accomplish goals.
- You can’t expect teachers to “be innovative” and “think outside of the box” when it’s not happening at the top. This one is so deep that a new post will follow specific to this thought.
- Technology, to some, is still a “thing”…It’s now the new “district thing”…not a reflection of normalcy. Moving reluctant teachers is one thing. Changing the thoughts of an entire school is another. Regardless, it’s still a process that must be approached purposefully.
Thinking back to my time as a classroom teacher, I also realized that I was not the norm. In the past few years, I’ve questioned why some teachers grow at much slower rates than others. The answer was buried in my realizations as above. I didn’t realize it at the time.
I’ve always been a bit of a rebel…willing to think out of the box and go against the grain. Regardless of what my “directives” were, I did what was best for my students…period. Maybe it was the impulsivity of my ADHD or my frustration with “the system”. I have no idea why I am wired in this way. I just am. Not everyone is willing to risk it all for the sake of experiencing real learning. I believe wholeheartedly in creativity on the part of the teacher because that is what leads to creativity on the part of students. The difference was that, in my school, I got away with it because I also understood that data would speak for itself and that as long as the data was good, I could do what I wanted.
That doesn’t make it right.
I lived on an island of one when it should have been a community of many. Many of my peers were frustrated with leadership, “programs” and disengaged students. Those things didn’t phase me. I was more frustrated with my peers and today I realize that I was wrong.
It wasn’t that I was disconnected from the obvious problems that plagued our school. I chose to combat those problems by doing what I knew was best in my classroom. I shut myself away from the chatter of complaints, refusing to get involved. Maybe I should’ve been more involved and helped empower my peers to do the same…fix it in your room.
Even in my new role as a technology specialist…which by the way is secondary to my content hat…It’s about teacher empowerment to empower their students to be 21st century thinkers. There will be no complaints, no whining…only solutions.
Do-able solutions…related to the task
NOT tech for the sake of tech
Teachers WILL have a voice and feel supported.