Friday, October 7, 2011

Year 2: Week 5 - How To Get It Done

My mom spent a lot of time and energy volunteering with my school’s PTA. She won a Golden Acorn award for her work and had a significant effect on the school community. My mom is someone who simply acts. She rarely complains about things she chooses to do and is very much a pragmatist who simply likes to do what needs to be done to make things happen.

Recently I had a phone conversation with my mom about working at my school. I work in a school that embraces and actively encourages people to come up with new ideas and pursue projects that will help the students have better educational experiences. I’m involved in a bunch of projects and initiatives right now and honestly, sometimes it can be draining.

When I was talking to my mom about this I was surprised to hear that she feels like a level of regret with some of her PTA volunteer work. She said that there’s two ways to make things happen. You can do it all by your self or you can work with others in the community and act together to reach a goal. My mom said she felt like she did too much by herself and wishes she had involved others more.

I’ve learned the most effective way to make something happen at my school is to have a lot of conversations. This includes teachers, administrators and even students. Sometimes these conversations take weeks to have and it may feel annoying because other people’s opinions seem to get in the way of progress but in reality it is exactly these conversations that help rather than hinder.

What we do as teachers for the school is not for ourselves and if teachers and administrators do not feel idea will best help the students than maybe they are right and you should rethink your idea. Does this get annoying sometimes? Yes, but it’s better that you have a conversation with a principal and get a “no” then put together an entire project and the day you are about to do it the principal finds out about it and quashes it then.

Yes, it is faster to do things by yourself and you feel like you are getting more done, but at the end of the day being a teacher is not about you and what your accomplish. It’s about the students and if a project is truly important and meaningful than it should be something that the school can carry on in the future with you around and the only way to ensure that is to involve people in others in the process.

I know that sometimes it seems ridiculous to have to check in with everyone under the sun before going ahead and pursuing an idea. Some of this is simply covering your bases so you have back-up is something goes array.  More that that it’s a way of creating community, an environment of open dialogue where people are working together to create learning opportunities for the students.

The students I teach aren’t “my students,” they are “our students” and the choices we make need to reflect what we all feel is best for them.

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