I used to think I was crazy changing all of the things I had traditionally been doing. I am sure I was not the only one. I used to think that I would grow out of it, get so frustrated I would quit, realize that the traditional ways were here for a reason and that’s why I should go back to them. Go back to hours of homework, go back to percentages and letter grades, punish some students while rewarding others, test them at every chance, and definitely be the boss of them all. I used to think change was hard.
Then a day passed, months, and finally years. Now as I get ready for my 6th year in the classroom and my 4th year of giving the classroom back to my students, I realize how natural it is. I have replaced my old toxic habits with these new ones and they no longer seem radical or even hard to implement. They are who I am as a teacher and it is just the way I know how to teach. It doesn’t mean it is perfect or that some people still don’t think I am crazy, but it does mean that I feel a sense of power in what I am doing and I have the results of student engagement to back it all up.
Changing how one teaches is terrifying, I know. Sticking to the change is frustrating, hard work, and sometimes so unappreciated that it leads to tears or angry words. But changes stop being changes after awhile and become habits instead. And habits just aren’t so scary to most. Habits become second nature and one day you realize that you are teaching the way you wanted to from the beginning. That you would be a student in your own classroom. That anyone can change, all it takes is the first step. Even if people think you are crazy.
I am a passionate 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” will be released this fall from PLPress. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.