Monday, December 17, 2007

So what makes this year different from any other?

This has been a busy year – there’s no doubting that – but it has also been a productive one. If you compared this to the construction of a house, you’d probably say that the architects have been busy on the plans, the foundations are laid and the frame is up. Sure, the site might be a little untidy, a few tools have gone missing, the tradespeople might be falling over each other at times, and the engineer adds a few new household gadgets each week, but it’s going to be an impressive structure.

Hang on a moment, that’s a terrible analogy.

It’s ironic to be talking about building, given that the focus for the start of the year has been on removing all walls to sharing, accountability and teamwork. That’s right, tearing down the barriers to learning and growth not just for students, but adults as well. This is no easy task given that teaching, historically, can be an isolating experience. In a classroom full of 30 other bodies, you can still be on your own.

So along comes Mr. Levy to announce that you’re no longer on your own – from now on, EVERYONE has to embrace the integration of technology. Great. In an instant, you’ve moved from being isolated to being totally exposed. A techno teacher? Me? I don’t think so.

Nevertheless, we’ve all been thrust out into the world (wide web) together. Instead of walls, we’ll be opening windows. Instead of doors, we’ll be accessing the same domain. We’ll be punching more keys than ever before, and there’ll be no ceiling on our activities.

Not only that, but the coaches have now been absorbed into administrative roles and everything is all about TEAMS. What’s going on? Who’s going to tell me what I should have been doing last week? Is Prinstein still in charge of ELA, and is Bolton still overseeing Math? Someone please explain.

Then we find out that the AUSSIE consultant really will be an Australian consultant – that is, he’ll be perched in front of a laptop on the other side of the planet supposedly helping us from 10,000 miles away (not to mention the time distance). Yeah, sure, we’ll never hear from him again.

Add to the mix a score of new teachers and a few new APs, and we’ve got the makings of a circus. So thank goodness that this ‘circus’ has featured a host of new tricks, some great performers, a cracking effort by the ringmaster, and even a few laughs along the way.

We know you’re feeling tired. You should be. You’ve put in some fantastic work so far this year, and you might not even be quite ready to hear this. Maybe you’re even experiencing a few growing pains, as other teachers surely would be too. We have been stretched in every way possible, discovered things about ourselves that we never knew before, and we’ve started to see our peers in a different light. Sounds like a nasty second dose of puberty doesn’t it? Thankfully it’s just the byproducts of this shared adventure.

At the end of this year, no matter what the final outcomes, at least we’ll all be able to declare proudly that we didn’t stand still. And that’s what this is all about – growth and celebration. Congratulations on your rapid progress this year, and we hope you enjoy reminiscing about some of the triumphs.

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