This week I’m celebrating perspective, namely the changes in my own perspective. The other morning I read this quote on Facebook:
The words resonated with me, and I shared the quote with a comment directed to my teacher friends, “Yes, I Cha Cha a whole lot these days. Embrace the Cha Cha; it makes us better. I might even call it the TKES Cha Cha. Yes, embrace the Cha Cha, my friends. Let’s dance! Happy Thursday!”
In a day and age where a former student who wants to be a teacher is told by every teacher other than me that she should not be a teacher, in a day and age when Nancie Atwell wins a million dollar teaching award and tells young people not to become teachers, in a day and age when a teacher’s resignation letter/vent goes viral, optimism is missing in our field.
I will be the first to admit that there are problems in education. I will be the first to tell you that the current culture of assessment and accountability is flawed.
At the same time, I also assert that there are parts of the current culture that have made me a stronger teacher. For example, I look at steps backwards as opportunities for growth and opportunities to renew my perspective.
Last year I told my principal that I was learning to cope with compromising pedagogy to do what he asked of me. Today I see the situation differently. Now I see who I’ve become as a sort of Darwinian adaptation–yes, perhaps who I’ve become is about ensuring the survival of teachers with positivity. At the same time, I have learned to see things through the lenses of others. When my principal zooms his microscopic focus on the details and the data, I don’t just pay lip service to his words, instead I try to switch from my telescopic focus and hone in on his microscopic focus. This helps me adapt and refine; this makes me a more well-rounded teacher able to gain perspective. When I look at the challenges of teaching through that lens, no longer do I feel as if I have compromised pedagogy–instead I feel as if I have refined it.
Perspective. I woke up Thursday morning with a quote about the dance of stepping forward and backward being comparable to the Cha Cha. Of course, that is the day of a TKES evaluation from my principal. Not feeling the part of optimist as he sat in my room–instead I felt the pacing was off, the opening was too long, and the logistics of the lesson were in need of work that my brain could not figure out in time for the day. After the visit, I thought about how I both dreaded and longed for the constructive feedback. One one hand, I thought I would hear about being busy and scattered. On the other hand, I wanted to ask questions about logistics, about how to get feedback for some of the steps I saw as bungled Cha Cha steps. I wanted to hear how the strategic brain would have planned and executed differently. My cynical side has waned–now there is a teacher seeking feedback in a new way. Looking for the opportunities.
We should all be dancing the Cha Cha. We should all allow ourselves to step backward in order to gain perspective and help us move forward. I’m not into dancing, but I am all about gaining perspective and adapting to become a better teacher and to help my students learn. I love how I find myself continually challenged to see things differently. Today I found myself more open and less cynical. I celebrate optimism. I celebrate the Cha Cha. I celebrate being an educator. If tomorrow I had to choose my major, I would still choose this.