You know the David Bowie song, Changes. This week I found myself singing it (okay, singing the chorus, humming through the words I didn’t know, then singing the chorus again, really loud) as I strolled through the beauty and wonder of Copper Falls Wisconsin State Park where we had parked our family of 4 for a week.
Ask anyone, I love change. I change my living room around monthly, change up the furniture on the patio, my students and I change the environment in which we learn, work, and play in response to the kind of work we are doing, and, for good measure, I even change up some of the Pandora stations I listen to, just to keep me on my toes. So when I was offered a new job, in a new district, requiring me to leave my district of almost 20 years, I assumed I would welcome and embrace the change as I do my new living room arrangement. Not so much. You see, there are nice, little changes, which I had gotten comfortable with, and then, there are BIG changes, which I found out, were not so comforting. I embraced everything about this new position, and it meant leaving everything I had come to know as safe and sound, in my old district, my old home. It’s funny, I thought, how I coach and require my students to change the way in which they have learned for the bulk of their educational experience, and sometimes forget the emotional impact it has on many students. The tears may not be from not understanding something, but rather from the way in which I am asking them to understand it in a different way…with no tidy worksheet with simplistic multiple choice, no tidy grade at the top which lets them know whether they got it or not, no bell that rings and signals them to put away their math materials and move onto writing, and no box that lets them know whether they fit in or not.
My tears from navigating this big change came from leaving what felt comfortable behind. Walking in the woods, embracing the feelings I have, painful and joyous alike, allowed me to come to this conclusion; yup, I can make the small changes pretty easily now, but the BIG changes are the ones that are really going to stretch me, push me to grow, and ultimately, be a small part of changing and revolutionizing education as we know it.
So make a BIG change this year, along with all of the small ones, and ride the wave of emotion that will take you to an entirely different place. Try a flex schedule, a flexible, mobile learning space, invite families in once a month to see exactly what you and their children are doing in the classroom, step far out, instead of just a little, in just one area, and see where it takes you. Along with revolutionizing education, you will be warmly rewarded with a better understanding of how it feels to make the BIG changes, which seem to make a deeper impact.
In the words of Ms. Frizzle herself, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.”