Glitter Words
[ – *Glitter Words*]
Whilst still on holidays, my mind is now turning towards the new school year.  I will be experiencing a number of changes this year, having taken on a coaching role, as well as continuing my previous work in a slightly reduced role.  I was asked recently how I feel about change, and I responded that I enjoy it – in fact, I get easily bored and thrive on change.  Along with change however does come some challenge.  To change, you must relinquish something, and our tendency is often to avoid that risk.     Risk taking is a trait we often cite as one we want to promote in the children we teach: in order to enable them to be efficient learners, they need to take risks.   So it seems obvious that teachers need to take risks too.   I  am happy to say that I regularly witness teachers who are risk takers and teachers who are willing to expose their learning to their students –  I believe this is a significant change in the past few years.  As a student, I certainly never witnessed it in my teachers.

To embrace the possibilities that the increased access to information and Web 2.0 technologies allow, most teachers must change to a mindset that did not exist in their earlier careers.   Access to the wonders of the internet and the tools we have that connect, collaborate and create mean that we must continue to change our way of thinking – we must accept that our classrooms extend well beyond the constraints of the bricks and mortar that used to limit us.     There are so many wonderful examples of this already happening, but much more needs to be done to match the lives our students are already living beyond our schools.

One thing that concerns me is that there appears to be a divide between those who are open to change and those who are unaware of the opportunities, fearful of the changes, or downright indignant that they are being asked to adapt.   Matt Esterman in his recent blogpost “Mind the Cows”, puts a beautifully positive slant on this :

The paradox of being a teacher is, I think, that on the one hand we are constantly told to keep developing professionally (and personally, as ours is such a personal vocation) and yet at the same time to retain and foster those aspects of our practice that are positive, passionate and/or already effective. We are definitely complex beings if only we had the time to truly map out our own complexity.

I would like to argue that educators can and should do both. To straddle the paradox. To grow and build on knowledge and skills in order to become better whilst at the same time maintain aspects of our professional lives that are of benefit to our students and our colleagues. Part of this is to instil a sense of independence fused to collegiality and collaboration, to feel that we are contributing as an individual to a shared vision alongside others.

The issue is; what needs changing? Or as Matt asks “What sacred cows do you want to push over?”.   Those risks that we take when we make changes are reduced when we have clear purpose and understanding.

Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.”  Bruce Barton  (from BrainyQuote)