Reinvent Yourself

Saturday, April 12, 2014

     Today I had an opportunity to attend the debrief of a site visit, specifically highlighting the wonderful things going on at Komensky and Heritage, but also the district in general.   There were multiple school districts in attendance that drove to Berwyn to see what we are doing here.  It was quite impressive to hear our district administrators, teachers, and iCoaches describe the learning opportunities our students have.  We are part of something special.

     One moment that really struck me was when one of our visitors asked how our iCoaches were trained.  They started discussing how they created their own PLNs to grow.  Sue Butler discussed all the changes in education (technology, common core, etc.) and said that common plan time is so necessary because with all the change, we need to collaborate.  There is no way we can do it all ourselves.  But, we need to make a lot of changes in ourselves.
She then said, "I don't need to reinvent the wheel.  I need to reinvent myself."

Wow.  Let me say that again...

Don't reinvent the wheel.  Reinvent yourself.

     That statement has still got me reflecting...  9 hours later, and on a Friday night.  But here I am, blogging about it.  Sue has always been very successful at getting me to think.  Well, she did it again.  And she's right.  I think will all the changes in education today, there are a lot of "changes" that are not really all that different.  But, there are some that are REALLY different. We have to allow ourselves to change: to look at things differently, to change our perspectives a bit, to shift the work to the students, to collaborate as a team daily.

     The phrase "Don't reinvent the wheel"has been around for a long time.  As long, in fact, as the wheel itself.  But, when you think back to caveman wheels, and you look at those we use today, the wheel is still the wheel.  It serves the same function as before.  But, is it the same wheel?  We haven't reinvented it, but it has certainly evolved.  As our lives have changed, and technology advanced, so did the wheel.  The same can be said about education.  The skills and strategies we need to teach are the same, but they have evolved as well.  The world has changed, and so too have the demands put on our students.
     Don't reinvent the wheel.  Let's perfect it.  The common core standards themselves, individually, are not new.  The strategies and skills listed in them are the same.  Students have always needed to know theme, or characters, or vocabulary, or figurative language.  But, times have changed, and so has the timeline that our kids have to master those strategies.  Also, they no longer have to do those skills in isolation.  The common core has perfected the wheel with the concept of demanding that our students not only know those strategies and skills in isolation, but that they use them together.

Wait?  Did she just say that the CCSS perfected something?!?!?!  Is she crazy?!?!?!

OK, perhaps it isn't perfect.   But, it sure did advance the wheel.

     Perhaps being a mom of young kids has helped me reinvent myself, but when I saw those standards, with all the things that I know are just best practice, yet they are asking our kids to think critically and for themselves, I nodded my head in agreement.  I want my own kids to be able to solve problems by themselves.  I want them to be able to hear 2 sides to a story, and make an informed decision.  I want them to see things in life and think about them.  More importantly, I want them to be successful.  And, quite honestly, they are growing up in a world that is different than the one I grew up in, and they will live in a different world as adults than the one today.  

Reinvent yourself.

     As a parent, we want better for our kids.  As a teacher, we have 28 of them to actually teach.  It is hard to manage that all by yourself.  Think about the things that might hold you back from making changes in your classroom, and then REACH OUT.  We need to work together to make change, because the world is a busy place.  Share your resources with a teammate.  Join a PLN.  Ask a student for tech help.  Reach out to a coach.  Share a great lesson with your team.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  

Know that you make a difference.  

Perfect the wheel, but don't perfect it alone.  

     Thanks, Sue, for making me think about things... again.  I would be more nervous about all the changes that are ahead of me professionally, but I happen to have an amazing PLN of colleagues (Sue included) and complete strangers who will help me out along the way.  Thank goodness for them!!!


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