Back-to-School Challenge


It is that time of year again. For most educators it is the beginning of a new year.  A chance to start over and try new things.  Unfortunately, many educators will not take this opportunity to commit to change, collaboration and improvement.  They will isolate themselves in their classrooms and repeat the things they have done year after year regardless of the results.   They will continue to complain about “education,” that there is not enough time to teach everything and that students just aren’t like they used to be.  Yes, the curriculum is gigantic and students change.  But, the problem does not lie with the students.  It lies with priorities, commitment, attitude and the willingness of teachers to work together.

One of the most common reasons that teachers give for their lack of collaboration  is “There’s not enough time for that.” I think this statement confuses time with priority.  If you truly want to build a collaborative learning community, if it is your priority, if you are committed to it, then it will happen. If you want to collaborate then you will make the time.  To remind myself of this, I placed this quote in my room from H. Jackson Brown, Jr. : “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

As we begin this school year, I challenge all educators to honestly and critically reflect on their practice.   What are your priorities?  Do you have a “whatever it takes”  attitude? Are you committed to collaboration or do you want to maintain the status quo?  In other words, are you part of the solution or part of the problem?  Our students will be arriving soon.  They deserve the best.  Let’s not let them down.

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2 Responses to “Back-to-School Challenge”

  1. Thanks for posting this – I couldn’t agree more.

    I think it’s too easy for teachers to maintain the “status quo” and beat a dead horse with age-old instructional approaches because unfortunately, that’s the way we were taught. I suppose there’s a fear of failing students when taking a leap of faith in new instructional methods and technologies, which is fair – but – let’s give ourselves some credit! “We” are the professionals who have the ability to gauge individual student successes and pull back on things that aren’t working, moving forward with those that are.

    Thinking selfishly for a moment, no one ever considers the worst-case scenario for their professional selves – the worst that can happen is that we learn something from new approaches – learn that we love or hate it, learn student strengths/weaknesses that we wouldn’t have observed otherwise, and learn about your own instructional abilities as a teaching professional.

    As far as reflection (be it group or individual) goes, it’s so necessary – even if you love your “old ways” of teaching. I think the way that PDs are being run is that they don’t “require” you to practice and reflect – there isn’t a follow-up or a buffer course. I think teachers would be more motivated to make time for reflection and PLCs if there was a shift in PD for something more integrated and authentic.

    Great post!

    Heidi

  2. Often times I wonder when “we” will realize that collaboration will help us to be more productive, better able to address our students needs, and essentially make our jobs easier and decrease our work load. By making collaboration a priority we will be helping not only the students, but also ourselves!

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