If you’d talked to me in May or June or even July, I would have told you that I was done. Done, done, done. Done with twenty years of teaching in good, but complacent factory-model schools. Done, and ready to do anything but that, even if it meant starving to death or losing everything and living in my car, down by the river, just me and the dog and the cat and the children and ….
I can be a bit dramatic sometimes! 🙂 And my “evil twin Ralph,” the less-pleasant side of my personality, sometimes takes a very dim view of things. “He” certainly had a dim view of the 20th-century, factory-model structure of education a few months ago, and “he” almost convinced me it was time to jump ship and start something new.
Without a revenue model.
Without a customer base.
Without a plan for either.
“Ralph” wanted me to run – but there are at least two kinds of running. You can run to something new and wonderful, or you can run from something old and horrible.
“Ralph” didn’t really care – but I did. And I realized that I really need to run to the new, not run from the old.
“Ralph” is passionate, but not always prudent. “Real me” is prudent, sometimes to a fault. Together, I guess “we” make a pretty good team.
Because “Ralph” keeps reminding me that it’s not OK, in the long run, to participate in a system if that system is actively hurting children. But “real me” keeps reminding “Ralph” that you can still do good work in a slowly-dying system … and that it is possible for a good, but complacent school to undergo a paradigm shift and start doing things differently.
I’ve seen so much evidence of that possibility in the last few weeks.
School started on Monday; teachers came back to work on August 16; and I’ve just been overwhelmed by the ways some of my very successful, very traditional colleagues have opened themselves up to real change. Is it the huge curricular reform that’s sweeping our state? Is it the conversations we had about moving from good to great? Is it just the opportunity to pause and reflect that we teachers get in the summer?
I don’t know, and right now I don’t really care about the cause. I’m just happy with the effect: my face-to-face teaching world is a happier place for me to be than it’s been in quite some time. Maybe it’s just because I’ve started to apply design thinking in my own classroom and class structures. Maybe it’s because I’ve been focusing on my circle of influence, not my circle of concern. Maybe it’s a gift of grace.
It’s definitely a gift of grace!
And I’m hoping that in the course of EdStartup 101, I’ll figure out when and how to run to the next right thing (check out my About Page for a sense of what that might be) … and maybe even find some people to run with on the journey.
After all, it’s a lot easier to keep running – metaphorically as well as literally – if you have at least one exercise buddy.