In most aspects of my life I am a rule follower and this is particularly true in school. I was a good student, a “goody two shoes”; I never got in trouble. I always did my homework and turned projects in on time. My parents always went to parent-teacher conferences even in high school. I was rarely one of those kids who pushes the envelope, gets in trouble, and risks detention.
All of that changed when I went to college. But that’s a story for another day.
Once a decision is made at my school, I carry through with it even if I initially disagreed with what was decided. That doesn’t mean I’m a pushover. If I feel strongly about something, I will argue to support my point of view, but I will also listen to the other side’s perspective. And, before a decision is made, I will try to reason, cajole, and persuade others to make sure that whatever we end up doing can be justified because it’s in our students’ best interest. If possible, I don’t negotiate.
In the busy world of schools, the challenge is to remember that we teach students, not tests or books or standards. Once we recognize this simple truth it makes all the difference in the world.
Like most teachers I trust and admire, I am passionate about teaching and learning. I have very strong opinions and I’m not shy about staking my claim. Yet, sometimes I feel unsure of myself. And, when I do, I seek out mentors through authors of professional books or social media. When I read blog posts by Pernille Ripp, Jessica Lifshitz and others I realize I’m not alone. When I go to my PLN -both new and old – I feel validated, but not in the sense of feeling self-righteous. Rather, I am reminded of what’s important.
When there are extensive disagreements about practice it usually stems from critical differences about pedagogy. Sometimes these can be talked through and a compromise can be made, but not always. As I get older I get better at listening and sifting through the rhetoric, mine and others’, so we can meet halfway, but I also have less patience. When things get too hard, I take a look at what is happening in my classroom and feel encouraged about how far we’ve come and how much more we can still accomplish. I try to listen to my students when they speak and also when they’re silent.
I make mistakes, more than I wish to admit, but I try hard to rectify them and move on. That’s one reason why my new daily writing habit feels so right. I reflect on a daily basis about everything that is happening around me, both personally and professionally, and I feel calm and focused.
I have a purpose. I know myself. I know my students and I try to have their best interests in mind. I’m like a fierce mama lion who watches her cubs carefully and zealously.
I make mistakes. I know. But I pick myself up off the ground, apologize if necessary, and fix the problem. If push comes to shove, I will do whatever is necessary to do right by my students.
Crossposted to Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday