[it's] The Climb


Dear Teacher,

Can you tell with the dramatic decrease in posts that it has been a busy start to my new school year?  New school years are always hectic, but even more so when there is a drastic change to what or how you are teaching.  This is kind of what today’s post is about.  However, first things first.  It is Monday, so it means this is a theme song post.

This past week, for me, is more than just the start of a new school year.  Last week marked a change in how I teach.  This summer I did a lot of work to learn more about teaching/learning and best practices for making that transaction of teaching and learning happen more effectively for me and my students.  I found out a lot of things that need to change, I planned  ways to make those changes, and last Wednesday was where the rubber met the road with it all.

I have made two major changes.  I am teaching through the use of Problem Based Learning units, and I am using brain-based learning strategies for my actual instruction.  This are both huge shifts in how I teach.  Not that I was not student-centered before, but these two things are making me far more intentional about anything and everything I do in the classroom.

This transition started with a long look in the mirror.  I had to stop pointing fingers about the lack of improvement for some of my students.  I had to take responsibility for my side of the teaching/learning relationship.  This drove me to look and ask for help.  I did this in a variety of ways, but something that kept coming up was Problem Based Learning (PBL) and brain-based strategies.  So I spent time learning about both of these.

I was, in essence, driven back to the drawing board.  In a lot of ways, I started over with how I thought about my role as a teacher, my students’ roles as learners, and what my classroom should look and feel like.  I made strides with changing these things.  I redesigned my classroom, my style of teaching, and how I set up the dynamics of lessons and units.  I put a lot of effort into this over the summer.

Last week, it all began.  This song pretty much sums up my experience.

It was hard to constantly remind myself of the changes that I am making.  I had to constantly rethink every interaction and transition.  I had to remember to keep each activity targeted and intentional.  I had to keep my mind on the fact that students that were not engaged might be a sign of something that I need to adjust in the classroom.  I had to be more proactive about every situation and potential conflict.

It got easier throughout the week, but it was difficult and tiring.  I came in early every day and stayed late.  I reflected and took mental notes.  I made small adjustments moment by moment, depending on the need.  It very much was a climb.

Did I lose some battles with myself?  Sure.  Did I get tired and worn out?  Of course.  Did I lose sight of my goals from time to time?  Yes.  Did I want to give up and slide back down the mountain every once in a while?  Affirmative.  Did I give up?  NO.  Did I keep climbing?  YES.

Change is about the climb.  It is about moving in the right direction.  Are we always going to win?  No, we aren’t.  Is going to be work, and hard work at that?  Yes, you know that it is.  It is the work and difficulties that actually change us.  We learn from failures more than successes.  When we have to backtrack and start again, we know what not to do and can do better the next time.

Becoming the teacher we can be is difficult.  But we need to keep on moving.  We need to keep on climbing.  As we climb, we are becoming more and more of the teacher that we need to be for our students.  We choose a destination, but it is the climb that makes us better.  Reaching the goal is not the ultimate success.  Being the person that we will become to meet that goal is the true success.  Change is the highest achievement.  The climb is what causes this change.

You are awesome!  I know that you are striving to make the changes that you need to make for the betterment of your students!  I know that you will keep working to make those changes!  You are amazing!  Keep on teaching, Teacher, and climb on!

Love, Teacher

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