Seasons change, our classes change, our priorities change, our attitudes change.
Change has been both a friend and enemy to me. The same elements of my teaching career that energize me—new classes, new curriculum, new teaching strategies, new focuses—are also major stressors in my life.
Sometimes I hate change. Routines bring me peace, as I can add the finesse to my teaching art when I’m familiar with the reading passages. I can plan ahead with a clear image of what my lessons will look like, and what the pitfalls could be. Each year I create bulging files stuffed with organizers I’ve created or borrowed from someone else. Every year, I believe that I’ve made my job easier.
But familiarity also creates boredom and discontent. There were some stories in the reading book that I wanted to skip because I really hated them. Many of the passages were so out of date, students couldn’t relate to them at all. Priorities about physical education and fine arts needed to be balanced with reading and math.
When my district announced they had finally chosen a new language arts program, I wanted to stand up and cheer. Now two weeks into the new school year, I’m too busy reading all the components of the lessons to get excited about anything.
Change means I must throw away all my old files away and start new. My flip flops stay in the closet as I wear my Vans for stair climbing. New faces and names wait for me to call on them. This year I am teaching 4th and 5th grade in a combination class, so I will have two sets of lesson plans. Besides the language arts program, we have a new math program, a new science program, and did I mention a new principal and vice principal?
Seasons change, our classes change, our jobs change, my attitude must change.
Instead of feeling rushed, I’m going to take time to listen and look my students in the eye. My pacing guide will adapt to the needs of my class. This year, my students will do more, and I will talk less. My new routines will include wonder, laughter, forgiveness, and collaboration.
I will make Change my best friend. I will invite her to sit down and have coffee with me. She will accept that I won’t do everything perfectly and together we will change the lives of our students.