Foundationally speaking, I haven’t changed. Core values and the essence of who I was and still am have not changed. Performing and putting on airs about who I am is just too much extra work for me. Besides, people deserve to know who they are dealing with. Therefore, I am certain that I have not changed. But yet, there is the world of people who stand in agreement that they love me and the work that I do with their youngsters. And yet another world of people who wish I would just fall off the earth and never speak another word.
Filter “Objectivity” on the case! I can now share that the lessons gathered from the harvest of both of these types of seasons have mattered so much. From Day 1 when I stood in the front of my first 3rd Grade families in 2011 to this present record year of Covid-19. From a roomful of parents and students hoping that I would be the type of educator that each of their children needed. To a mere five halfway excited scholars in person and the other 11 half watching the computer screen and half watching the television while attending (mostly unsupervised) virtually. I have stood resolute in my beliefs on the value of a sound education in both worlds and have learned valuable lessons from both groups of humans.
My belief that every child can learn has created a push in me to educate as well as I can using every fiber in my being to cater to the individual and diverse needs before me each day. With this crazy idea that I could reach every one of them, I set out to guide each student to their full potential in 180 school days. I was struck to learn that in one world, students received my educational faith in them, the encouragement and nudges with similar enthusiasm shown by their parents at open house, parent teacher conferences, and other school events. My methods worked with great ease resulting in entire groups making leaps and bounds every school year.
In the other world, however, I was hit in the head with a boulder! Students were annoyed and insulted at the implication that they could possibly understand that multiplication and division are inverse operations. They showed this annoyance with the same level of rigor their parents showed whenever the teacher called to request a conference or suggest the student receive support with homework or other reinforcement activities. There was an imminent threat to my mission, to my level of commitment to all or at least most of my kiddos reaching their highest potential for the year.
Through my objectivity filter I would learn that my core values would never change but if I truly believed in my mission, I would have to grow significantly and change only my methods in order to help the children in the “other world” be able to see themselves as I saw them. A few years into my teaching career I latched onto the “Growth Mindset” theory (particularly as taught by Carol Dweck) and I taught that concept just as fiercely as I taught inverse operations. We discussed it, we practiced it, we did role play. It became a culture in our classroom. I was excited when it later caught on at the school where I taught. Resistant students discovered a new objective filter that allowed them to see pass their bias about their own abilities. As parents saw the change in their young learners, their participation in the teaching and learning process increased as well! Lesson learned: When those you are trying to help cannot grow; you grow and teach them how to grow before you teach them inverse operations! All lessons matter.
~Always with Love