"It is not hard to learn more. What is hard is to unlearn when you discover yourself wrong." - Martin H. Fischer
You know, I'm actually getting tired of the excuse, "There's just not enough time." I get it....I understand the feeling, but guess what? It is just an excuse. It's an excuse for not wanting to change. An excuse for avoiding the time and thought needed to examine your practices, your curriculum, your schedule, your skills and knowledge base. It's an excuse to stay comfortable in that nice well worn rut we have developed by repeating our same actions. Why stretch our muscles when they have become comfortable at doing what we do year after year. I hear the rallying cries of, "we just keep adding and adding, but no one ever takes anything away. There is no time to learn this new technology tool, this teaching strategy, or to implement this new initiative." Or the ever infamous yeah buts, such as, "yeah but that won't work in my school, or with my administrator, or in our town."
If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all. ~Pearl S. Buck
But you know what....that's just an excuse. Why? Because so many people have made those changes already. I have literally met hundreds of people on Twitter that are doing all of those things. They are watching their students grow and develop new skills and gain greater insights while becoming more creative. So I had to ask. How? Do you have an 28 hour day? Do you get paid to work in the summer? Do you teach for a half day, then a sub comes in during the afternoon while you work on creating lesson plans for PBL or get special training on iPads, SMARTBoards or just all of the great apps on the internet? Do the kids have to stay in from recess to blog, do you not have RTI, PBIS, or state mandated tests?
No, I am not talking about teachers from my school (although I am sure there are some that feel this way) I am talking about teachers from all over the place. I'm not even talking about only teachers. I have heard administrators from all over the place use this same rallying cry. And yes, I have even felt this same way. As a matter of fact, I had succumb to that feeling last week during our weekly #atplc chat on Twitter. I was frustrated with not being able to do all of things that I know are best to do. A few of the other school leaders shared some of their own frustrations as well, but they also offered up ideas of how to overcome them. So, after the chat, I turned off the computer and TV and just reflected for a bit. A few weeks back I had the chance to attend the ASCD national convention in Chicago and while there I attended a session by Dave Burgess. Dave is a teacher in San Diego. He is also the author of "Teach Like a Pirate." During his session he shared how it really bothers him when teachers say to him, "Well, teaching like that is easy for you, you're creative." He went on to share how that really diminishes all the effort and creativity he puts into his lessons. His presentation was focused on teachers, but I have found the medicine was good for me too. The simple fact is we all have the same 24 hours in a day, almost all of us have the same families to return home to (some bigger and some smaller) and we all are busy and work hard to meet the needs of our students. But the question is....are we? Are we really meeting the needs of our students? Or are we simply going through the motions of doing what we did the year before.
If I am truly trying to grow and focusing on the needs of my students and staff, then I need to find the time and make the commitment to change what I can to make that culture exist. I can rest on the comfortable couch of excuses, or I can find ways to make all that I need to do, and all that my staff needs to do a possibility. So I am done with the excuses. While I still don't have all the answers, I am positive of the vision I have for my school and I have a Professional Learning Network of over 2,800 people I can turn to for ideas. And actually my PLN may be larger than that. Because when I ask a question to my followers, they may retweet it out to their followers. In actuality, I am connecting to educators and leaders all over the world. I am bound to have some incredible ideas come rolling in.
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ~Alvin Toffler
So as the quote above states, are you ready to unlearn what you have done for years? Are you enlightened enough and motivated enough to relearn how to be a teacher that is preparing students for 21st century skills? Can you readjust your vision for students, and help them become the creative, deep thinking, reflective, well read adults we need them to become? Because if you thought this would be hard for the students, guess how hard it will be for those that have developed a 10 to 20 year rut. Not much has changed in education over the years. Sure we have added quite a bit and we have slowly raised the bar, but we still tend to stand in the front of the class and deliver lectures (heck our classrooms are even designed for that) and we still tend to teach from a book. We still tend to give a multiple choice test at the end of a unit. We still tend to mark students down for late work, we still tend to have them fill out worksheets that promote low level learning and recall instead of analysis or synthesis. What do you tend to do? Or are you ready to create new tendencies? Are you ready to break the mold? Then sit back and decide how you will do it without more money, without more support, without an aide, without more time. Just decide that it is the right thing to do, and that your students deserve your best. Not your best from 10 years ago, but your best from 10 years from NOW. Because I am not sure that student in the back of your room....I'm not sure if they can afford to wait for you to find the time.