But I'm in a new position now, one where I step back from "the trenches" and get to work behind the scenes in education to coach teachers and school leaders through forward-thinking inquiry projects and innovation. And I'm pretty pumped about it.
We are in an exciting time in our profession. For the first time in over one hundred years, HUGE changes are on the horizon as teachers move from being the "keepers of knowledge" (the Internet does that, now) to the "facilitators of learning;" helping students develop their soft skills (communication, creativity, citizenship, collaboration, resilience...) and navigate, as well as harness, the seemingly infinite amount of information at their disposal. Teaching students to make a difference, rather than make a grade.
Schools don't have to be institutional: neat rows of desks, hands-in-laps-feet-on-floor students, silent classrooms. Teachers don't have to rely on the textbook to guide them through what must be taught. We are at a time when creativity and outside-the-box thinking can truly drive the teaching process and the learning environment.
As our group of student success co-ordinators met formally as a group for the first time this week, we centred a lot of our conversation on how we were going to create this change. We have read up on why this change needs to happen. We've seen the amazing things being done in schools that have broken the mould. We have seen pockets of teachers shaking things up, but on a large scale - on a board-wide scale - we seem to be dragging our feet.
We know WHY this change is necessary. Our next question becomes, HOW do we start creating it?
- How do we convince others that change is necessary?
- How do we encourage principals to lead (and model) change in their own schools?
- How do we help introduce change in a way that teachers become receptive and open to try things that, when you've been teaching a particular way for 20 years, are very scary?
- How do we help teachers and principals do this when they already have a million things on the go in their schools/classrooms?
It seems overwhelming, and we are up against a lot of challenges. It's daunting. But then I saw this fly by on Twitter this morning:
Regardless of the obstacles, we have to begin now. We can't just preach innovation, we have to be innovative ourselves. We have to meet teachers and school leaders where they are at, and introduce change in any number of ways we can think of to get the ball rolling (differentiation, anyone?). We have to continually reflect on what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we know it's working.
And it's okay to start small. But we have to start. We have our work cut out for us.