I’m trying to merge. The traffic moves fast, and I stop behind the car in front of me, watching them watch. Hurry. Stop. Wait. Be ready. Hurry. Slow down. Watch. Hurry, hurry!
That’s what teaching felt like last year; maybe it’s what was happening for a long time.
We had to go before we were ready. We moved faster than we planned, couldn’t really plan, and then moved faster than we were prepared to go.
All that mattered was moving forward, and getting there (Where? We didn’t know! And it kept changing!) as fast as possible, with the least amount of frustration, discord, and chaos. When the upheaval upheaved me, I had to look at the mess of my practice that rolled in pieces on the floor, like a junk drawer overturned because I couldn’t find what I needed.
I slashed anything that wasn’t directly tied to my standards.
I assessed more frequently, and in a lot of different ways.
I encouraged choice and creativity.
I layered learning experiences with complementary content.
I taught resilience.
I learned that when students, teachers, and leaders move forward in the fall, whatever we practice, what we sacrifice time and energy to create, has to serve our students immediately, with precision, and without wasted time. We will be recovering more than learning, and will embrace how precious it is, and what it costs to be effective. We also need our practice to float on hope, compassion, and grace for ourselves and our students.
I want to adventure next to teachers as we sort the learning rubble, and implement change that moves learning forward with you. I want to stay near, responding to questions, listening, wondering with you as you implement ways to come alongside your students.
I want to focus on your strengths, the resilience and tools you developed last year. I cordially invite an evolution of leadership and teaching. I aim to guide expansion based on the sweet spot where teaching strengths and students’ needs converge.
My goal is to support ways to expand expertise: the capacity of teachers, teams, and leaders, all while engaging in practices that move learning forward.
Let’s invest in: mastery learning; compassionate, rigorous assessment; embedded disciplinary literacy, and differentiated professional development to serve the needs of all staff in a building or district.
In that turn lane, I didn’t think about catching up to the traffic whizzing by. I thought: “How am I going to get moving again? Can I get in there and get going?”
I don’t have the freedom to stop and can hardly afford to slow down.
Learning recovery requires effective, efficient expansions of existing practice.
We aren’t going to catch up; we need the tools, the creativity, and the flexibility to merge.