I know I am luckier than most in my job situation. Though I didn't choose to go into education right away in college; I declared pretty early on in my college career. I have always known that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others and knew in education I could do that. Now at first, I thought it was going to be like the movies, "Dangerous Minds" or "The Ron Clark Story" and I was going to go into a school and inspire kids unlike anyone else before me. I, obviously, had my rose-colored glasses on, thinking I was going to change the life of every student I would come to teach. I still have the desire but I realize that even if I only make a difference in just one of my students' lives, my career was successful. I love my job, every minute of it, and don't regret becoming a teacher at any moment, but I do not agree with the current school structure, educational process, etc.
My current philosophy is way outside the box for a lot of people (I am definitely thankful for my partner in crime, Don Eckert) but I feel like I have to speak out even if I
am constantly feel like we are constantly being disagreed with, looked down upon or dismissed about the way we teach in our classrooms. How are we meeting the learning goals? How do we relate 20% Time to the standards? Can you really give up one day a week to something that is not curricular? How do you convince your principal this is worth doing? What, you don't give the district assessments? In Don's infamous words to any of these questions, "You are missing the point". That's what I feel like is happening in education, "We have missed the point." We aren't thinking about what is best for kids. We might think we are, but we have missed the point. The educational system as we know it, is not preparing our current students for a world in which they are growing up. We are not equipping them with the skill sets they need to be successful. The skill set has changed for kids even from 10 - 15 years ago. We have to look at what our students need in order to thrive as adults and grow into educated, motivated, life-long learners. I just don't believe this is happening within schools because, you guessed it, they have "missed the point". This is not to say there are not some teachers who are doing awesome, amazing things but I would argue that most are struggling with letting go of a traditional style they have always known and used.
So, because of this (I am happy to sit down and talk more philosophy!) I feel so passionate about problem-based learning and 20% Time. I love seeing my students grow, problem solve, and get excited when they finally realize that after all of their hard work, they got the answer right. I love seeing the intrinsic motivators that get students excited about their learning. Do they struggle with this type of teaching? Absolutely. Do they get frustrated and annoyed with the process? Yep. But they understand that when you are growing as a learner, sometimes it hurts, even hurts to think because that means we are working our brains. The passion and excitement I get to see when they feel successful, lets me know everyday that I chose the right profession and the right teaching method. My passion continues to grow from year to year, as I continually change lesson plans, projects and even whole units because I know that I can just make them better. I feel that in my 9th year, I have finally hit my stride and
sometimes always regret that my first five years of teaching were so blah, dare I say, awful! Now that is probably harsh, but I was finding my way, doing everything by thebook. Now I know the way I am teaching is what is best for students even if I am currently in the minority. I believe that the skills I am teaching will set my students up for continual success as they travel the path of their educational journey. We want to ignite the intrinsic spark for learning within each of our students and help build their drive for knowledge, and to do this, we have to quit "missing the point". -Melissa