This school year has already been such a whirlwind of change, more than any of the other 12 years prior. Too many teachers have left, positions changing, new responsibilities, new teachers arriving…it’s just so much. This seems to be the year when so many of my colleagues and friends decided to leave their comfort zone and try something new. I too am trying something new by teaching 8th grade for the first time and being one of the blended learning specialists at my school.
I must admit: all of this change is unnerving. I can usually roll with it, but SO MUCH in such a short amount of time feels like I’m sitting still while everything is whirling around me. It’s educational vertigo.
Growing up, I was taught to not make mistakes or take risks. As an only child, I was sheltered from just about everything, and the mantra in my house was, “Don’t make mistakes, just listen to what we say.” Therefore I was often paranoid, overly cautious, and straight and narrow. I was constantly observing other people’s mistakes so that I could learn from them and not make them myself.
There are two main problems with this. First, it caused me to become a judgmental person since I was constantly scrutinizing other people’s actions and the subsequent consequences. There were a lot of shoulds in my mind: they should’ve planned ahead, they should’ve studied, they shouldn’t do this or that, etc. I’ve learned that “should” is a very judgmental word. It’s very aggressive, spiked with the speaker’s opinion. Anytime somebody starts “shoulding” I cringe. Honestly, who are WE to tell somebody what they should do? We don’t know what the person has gone through and where they’ve come from, so how can we assess what they should do?
Second, it taught me to never take risks and and instead to fear change, which meant that I didn’t really learn what my true passions were. Having always stayed on the trail, it never, ever crossed my mind to blaze a new one. I was very non-confrontational, always followed the rules, never spoke my mind. I did what was expected of me, and I did it well. It was much later in my career that I found what truly drives me in education, and I made a switch. But up until that point I’d never DREAMED of doing anything to rock the boat!
All of the changes happening with my colleagues involves taking risks and trying something new. I admire them for doing so, and am proud to be doing my part in doing something unfamiliar.
Dealing with change
Two of my good friends went to other sites to pursue administrative positions. Another went to a newer school. The coordinator for the FLAGS Program (the one that my team belongs to) just announced yesterday that she’s leaving to teach at a high school. An English teacher from my department switched to ASB. Two weeks later we welcomed her successor. One of my friends from the band world just started at our school! People coming and going.
For my friends that left, I first thought, wait, WHAT? You shouldn’t leave, you should stay! Our school is great! The kids are amazing! What if you hate it there? What if we can’t find anyone to replace you? AAGGHH!
How am I now handling this?
I realized that they SHOULD do what they think is best for them. Of course I don’t want them to go, I’ll miss them. But should they stay and not be challenged or inspired? Of course not!
And with new teachers comes new knowledge and friendships! Some of our newer teachers have such a fresh perspective and have shown me different ways to approach my lessons and students.
Therefore, I’m finding myself empowered and inspired by these changes. For the teachers that left, I think about how their decisions have led them to bigger and better opportunities, with the potential for so much personal and professional growth. It’s an adventure! The teacher who switched to ASB? None of us knew that she’d been waiting FOREVER for the opportunity, and I encouraged her to just go for it! Our new teachers? I’m doing everything I can to help with the transition, from connecting them with the right people in the school who can help them with various tasks, to assisting them with their gradebooks and technology.
I’m both sad and excited, nostalgic but hopeful, unsettled yet resolved to move forward.
Resisting change is futile. Rather than holding on to something and letting the current rush by, I’m going to let go and see where the river takes us.