Be the change, being a teacher, new year, reflection, Student-centered, students

Just Fine is Not Enough

Today, my baby twins turn two.Hard to think they were ever small enough to fit in my body when they stand in front of me demanding another waffle, another kiss, another story.  And yet, two years is a long time, a lot has changed.  Not only have they changed, but we have changed. The world has changed in ways we could never imagine.  Sometimes on purpose, other times out of necessity.  Change, as they say, is a constant.

I think of how we change in the classroom and how we often change based on what we need.  We are after all the ones who wield most of the power.  We are the ones who plan the lessons.  Who chart the course.  Who have to act in charge, even if we don’t feel it.  We change when things don’t work for us, when things don’t fit into our framework of what our classrooms should look like.  We change when the little voice inside tells us we need to.  And sometimes we change because the kids ask us to. Then we get happy, we stay, we think our change is enough and the years start to tick by, and we forget that we ever needed the change because what we are doing seems to work just fine.

“Just fine…”something I hear so often when I ask people to whether they can change.  We hold up our files of success, our pictures of kids engaged, we find the proof we need that things are working and kids are learning, that our change that happened so long ago was enough for now.  Yet those kids are not the same, I see that in my own four kids.  The twins are nothing like Theadora when she was two, the world has changed a lot since then.  And when Augustine turns two, the world will have changed again, and so will the kids in it.

So be proud of your change, but check it too.  You may have found it works “just fine” but is it time to change again?  To fine-tune?  To adapt?  To throw it all out?  Is it time to listen to the kids that are coming to you now, not those that you taught a few years ago.  The ones who are excited to have you be their teacher this year.  Is there change that needs to be done for them? I know there is for me.

I am a passionate  teacher in Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4, 5th, and 7th grade.  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 Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” can be pre-ordered from Corwin Press now.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

1 thought on “Just Fine is Not Enough”

  1. As usual, you’ve made me uncomfortable, but in a good way. It’s the time of year for rethinking classroom arrangement, scheduling, routines and procedures… It’s so overwhelming that it’s easy to make a few tweaks and call it “good enough.” I’ve learned so much this summer, and I have lots of new ideas to try. Some of the old things have gotta go. I think it’s my time to be ruthless. Thanks for the nudge.

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