I first began writing this blog post in September. Unfortunately, blogging took a back seat in my professional life for the past 3 1/2 months. On Saturday, I received a Sunshine Award from @CathyMere which prompted me to "dust off" my blog. I am grateful for the nudge from Cathy to work on my blog. I believe it makes me a better connected educator- by sharing what I'm thinking, learning, and doing with others. So, while it is not a "resolution" for me, I will be more focused on publishing my thoughts more regularly. Thank you so much @CathyMere!
So, here is that blog post from September:
I love music. Music is a soundtrack for my life. David Bowie's "Changes" playing through my head lately as I think about all the things that I'm doing differently in my own practice to start the 2013-14 school year. These changes are a response to new learning I've received as well as the rapidly changing education landscape in the great state of OH-I-O. It has been said that the one constant in life is change. Well, I believe the same is true for education as well.
Change is what makes this chosen career path both exciting, challenging, and rewarding. First as a teacher with over 10 years in the classroom, I can say with absolute certainty, that my teaching practices changed every year. Not only was I gifted with students with different needs each year, I was provided with changes in curriculum, administration, teaching materials, techniques, and schedules. Not to mention that during my career in my previous school district, I changed physical locations, on average, every two years. When I left the classroom 6 years ago to begin a career in administration, I know that my last group of third graders was taught differently than my first group of fourth graders. I know that my last teaching position within the district as a reading specialist working with at-risk readers in kindergarten and first grade forever changed how I viewed the teaching of reading. I know that through my experiences in the classroom and all the changes that came with it, I was a much better teacher. Without change, we would do a disservice to our students, to our families, and to our communities.
Yet, I still get puzzled when colleagues react so negatively to change. Perhaps, it is how I view the world. Whenever there is a new challenge or change, I, like many, have an emotional response or reaction. After I have had a little while to digest (or as I like to say "incubate") the challenge or change, I seek to find the true purpose for the change. If the purpose is unclear to me, I will follow up with clarifying conversations. While I don't always like the response I receive, I look for ways to embrace the change and make the most of it.
Like in many other settings, Ohio finds itself at the crossroads in education. The alphabet soup of education has many new acronyms: CCSS, OTES, eTPES, OPES, PARCC, and FIP, just to name a few. Add to this a new grade card system for school districts and buildings using letter grades (which as an advocate for standards based grading makes me cringe).
While I'm not in favor of ALL the changes taking place in my home state, I believe some have value that we must embrace. With the transition to CCSS, teachers throughout the state and across the United States have an opportunity to learn from one another, share resources, materials, strategies, ideas, etc. This will assist in creating more connected educators. Students who move across the state line (in theory, though some states are not adopting CCSS) will be provided a more cohesive education. Being an administrator during the transition time, allows me an opportunity to learn the standards with my teachers and have high quality conversations about how to best support our learners.
OTES/OPES/eTPES all center around new teacher and principal evaluations in the state of Ohio. While a hotly debated topic among most Ohio educators, I believe there is value to this change. We now have a more uniform way to communicate educator performance. There is a rubric that provides teachers guidance for how they are performing and how to improve their practice. While the rubric, itself, is not perfect, it is a great starting place for providing feedback and having great conversations about the teaching and learning process. Currently, there are changes pending in our state legislature about this process.
As we begin a new calendar year, I am excited by the changes yet to come.