We as teachers are given a Grand Canyon we must work within. Many things are set in stone for us. Mandates. Data. Curriculum maps. Standards. Scores. It can feel downright confining and suffocating. But what if we see our confines as a Grand Canyon?
Because the Grand Canyon is, well, HUGE. There is so much beauty and space there. There are trails upon trails upon trails. You can hike, ride a donkey, or take a helicopter to the floor of the Grand Canyon. Once there you can ride a kayak down the river.
We are restricted, yet so free. The question I ask myself pretty much daily, is, "How can I do what I must to meet administrative and state requirements and still find joy in the classroom? How can we integrate my teaching style, kids abilities/likes/dislikes/personalities into the mandates to make them our own?
I fuss that we are told to do this and do that and Big Brother is watching you. But it is really not that bad. No one is coming to my room with a checklist to make sure I am doing what I am told. (Sorry if that is your situation.) "Mandates" given to us are sometimes optional, but as teachers we want to please the higher ups. "Look at me! I am doing what you told me to do." And the safe part of that is this: If you do exactly what you are told and your scores are low, well, you aren't the one to blame.
This post is a peptalk to myself. Taking risks is scary by nature. (or it wouldn't be a risk). But I love the way Matt Miller reframed it in a post he wrote. (Go read it!)
It's scary to take risks, to be sure. But as Matt Miller says, "What we need are mavericks."
It's a big beautiful Learning Canyon we are in. Go places that excite you. Take adventures that your students will remember. And see what the vastness holds for you.
Jill A. Hostetler