When I first began this blog, I wasn't wholly sure about its purpose. My writings would explore my teacher-self, to be sure; but did I really plan on sharing it beyond the confines of my own head? No, not right away - which is why I haven't tried to publicize or tie my writings to any one mission or particular achievement.
Last year, I more or less used this space to reflect on my over-arching experience as a first-year teacher. Looking back and reading my thoughts and views (which I hadn't done since writing them) has certainly been useful as a second-year teacher in order to gain a retrospective and more comprehensive understanding of that stepping-stone journey. I even found some of my own advice helpful in the moment - fancy that!
This year, I started writing late...once again, I wasn't sure of the direction. I thought about exploring the history of educational trends and trying to take both a bug's and a bird's eye view of where we stand now as a society, what those trends look like and what they say about our present and future states.
One insight is that we, as a society, have a lack of long-term foresight, and tend to ride waves as they appear (for better or worse). These are not new thoughts, by any means, but I like to think that every perspective is just a bit different and might have SOMETHING of value. I also have an interest in writing on the FUTURE of education and society, the innovative directions we take, how that looks locally and globally, and how our directions in business and technology might help to evolve (or catastrophically collide) with our current public education system.
But then I had a relatively small epiphany. I realized that the key element to teaching and learning is all too often missing or perceived as wrong - JOY. Something had been bothering me lately, gnawing at my gut when I made the drive into school. I knew - I know - that I love to teach, but lately I have been troubled by the flow of tasks and expectations that seem to dam up without ever going anywhere.
The disconnect between policy makers, administrators and teachers is real, in my world anyhow, and I can't help but believe that there MUST be a better way to accomplish and achieve high expectations and standards for both students AND teachers. The influx of new initiatives, lack of necessary resources and support, and the skewed system of accountability has sent my mind reeling in a darker direction lately. I don't like this feeling - not one bit.
I don't mean to harp and complain the day away, as too many educators do, without ACTING. Do I think the present education system can and should be changed? Yes. Certainly, no two districts are the same, and there are those who are thriving under the new standards and accountability policies, and those floundering.
Sheer and utter joy in learning and teaching. There are pockets in the day, to be sure. But a joyful foundation of learning and teaching cannot be dictated, and this is exactly what is sacrificed when decontextualized demands are issued from on high. I now, more than ever, believe that the real "stuffing" of education should be of local control - I'm talking school-level. I may be naiive. I know that not all districts or schools have the human and financial capital to achieve this goal - but the idea rings a bell.
I do believe national standards are of benefit, and can be accomplished - but the exact calculations of how to reach said goals are going to change from school population to school population; vast diversity from school to school populations exist in my district, as I know it does elsewhere. Should there be communication and some form of cooperation between schools? Of course. How does this get accomplished? I have no firm ideas as of yet, but my aim is to develop my thoughts on such a system tomorrow, the next day, and for my teaching days to come.
For the time being, I must focus on cultivating that missing joy - in my students and in myself. I vow NOT to be drawn down by teacher complaints and jabs at miscommunications and disagreements with administration (though certainly I see some of the validity in points made). There is no sense in splashing around the cess pool.
When things don't go as planned and seem a bit hectic because of miscommunications and lack of resources - I will rally to be of service in the ways that I can. I want out, and even if this can't be fully achieved physically in the immediate future, then I will do my best to do so on a mental plane. I vow not to let my philosophy of what teaching and learning can look like to be stomped out by passivity, laziness, or ease of habit and routine.
My responsibility is to educate myself, to find sincere sources of knowledge, to reach for opportunities for growth - and to dream of a brighter tomorrow. Isn't this what we tell our students? I certainly do, and I will not be a hypocrite - I will practice what I preach, and make the steps down the not-so-forgotten path to achieve a personal vision in the making.