aha moment, Be the change, being a teacher, being me, challenge, choices, Passion

When We Forget Where We Are Going

image from icanread

Sometimes we get so turned around that we forget our chosen path.  We forget where we are going.  We forget where we came from.  And in our turned-around-ness we think we need to abandon our path completely, because we no longer know who we are.

A week ago I thought my path forward next year would not be in 7th grade.  That I was not meant to teach this challenging age after all.  That I had gotten so far away from who I was as a teacher that there was no way for me to find myself again. I didn’t want to stick around for another year, I wanted to run.  Forget about the challenges,  Forget about all the good I thought I could do that wasn’t happening.  Lick my wounds and go back to my safe zone.  Back to elementary where the kids show they like you and think your jokes are funny.

Then spring break happened and with it came a moment to reflect.  A moment to remember that I don’t run from challenges.  I don’t quit when it gets hard.  That when something isn’t working, I don’t give up, I fix it.  And that perhaps 7th grade is my biggest challenge, and since when have challenges scared me?

I had forgotten that the last time I thought I was going to quit, I recommitted.

I had forgotten that the last time I didn’t like the teacher I had become, I changed.

I had forgotten that it is hard to change schools, districts, and especially grade levels, but we still do it.

That it is hard to reinvent yourself.  That it is hard to figure out new curriculum.  That it is hard to get to know students especially when you only have them for 45 minutes.  And that you will never be the greatest of teachers the very first year you teach something.  No matter your passion.  No matter your dedication.  No matter your ideas.

So I am getting back to basics.  Back to making it about the kids and not the curriculum.  Making it about growing together and figuring it out.  About making school about them and not about me.  Taking my own advice over the years and giving the classroom back to the students.  Away from homework, away from scores, away from me lecturing, and back to them doing, and questioning, and changing our school.

I am terrified to continue on as a 7th grade teacher.  They are my biggest challenge.  Yet, within that challenge I have been given a new chance to be better.  And not just as a teacher, but as a human being.  Sometimes life gets us so lost that we forget to see where we are.  We forget to see the wonder around us.  To marvel at all of the greatness that surrounds us.  It is time for me to once again open my eyes and revel in the fact that I get to be a part of the 7th grade journey.  It is time for me to stop being so scared and getting back to what I love; being a great teacher for every single kid.  Even the ones that make me want to quit.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 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.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

3 thoughts on “When We Forget Where We Are Going”

  1. Wow, this could not have been more timely in my life. Thank you for sharing your journey…it gives others a chance to reflect on their their own journeys, relate, gain insight, and grow right along with you! That is a great gift…sometimes it’s easy to feel so alone in our struggles.

  2. You wrote out what I’ve been scared to write myself. Last fall I was transferred into a grade seven classroom – right back where I started as a teacher almost twenty years ago. I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, but a year that started with abrupt change has continued on to leave me feeling very out of sorts. I’m not myself. I have no professional direction. I feel stalled, and every time I think I have a good idea, something happens to stand in the way. It’s unsettling. It was good to read your post and feel the determination and hope kicking in. Thank you. And best wishes as you face your challenges head on.

  3. Like Kristin and Errin I feel quite a connection to this piece. I changed schools and grade levels this year (after 16 years at the same school) and it has been both wonderful and so very hard. Next year looks to be as challenging, if not more. But I’m learning, growing, and having chances to help others do the same.

    Thank you for the reminder to focus on the things I value. I think I’ve lost sight of some in the craziness lately.

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