Posted in Education, STEM, Teaching

Is Change Good or Bad?

When I taught second grade at St. Thomas School in Sanford, ME, I parked my car in the same place every single day.  No matter what the weather was or when I arrived, I parked on the side of the street past the school.  Sure, it was a long walk to the school from there and I could have parked closer, but I didn’t.  I parked there on day one and still did even on my last day.  I’m a creature of habit.  Change scares me.  Well, it used to scare me.  Now, I embrace change like it’s a chocolate donut covered in maple syrup.  Change is yummy!

For progress to manifest itself, my teaching needs to be ever evolving.  I’m always learning about new teaching practices, reading new books my students might enjoy, and trying new things.  The sixth grade curriculum has changed dramatically each year because of this learning and evolving I do.  The way I teach is always in a state of flux and development.  A few years ago I transformed our sixth grade English and History classes into a sixth grade Humanities class.  Last year, I created a sixth grade STEM class from our Math and Science classes.  Everything I do in and out of the classroom regarding teaching has to be about the students.  If I get stagnant or allow my teaching style to remain unchanged, I will not be able to best support and guide my students.  Teaching is an unmapped journey.  While there are lots of treacherous stops along the way, there are also numerous beautiful ports and islands filled with amazing creatures and scenery.  The water is always warm and the sun is never too hot.  I love it!

I recently learned that one of my co-teachers with whom I’ve been working for many years is leaving my school at the end of this year.  Yes, I am happy for her and her family.  Great things are sure to come from her move to Pennsylvania.  However, selfishly, I’m very sad.  Not only is she one of my best friends, she is also one of the best educators with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of working.  She challenges me to grow and change every day.  I’ve learned so much from her.  I’m a better teacher now because than I was before I began working with her.  I will miss her dearly.  Now, I know that I certainly can’t ever replace her.  However, the school does need to fill her position.  Fortunately, there is another amazing teacher currently employed at my school in the seventh grade.  She has a background in elementary education and has taught sixth grade at her previous school.  She is energetic and innovative.  I’ve had many great conversations with her about teaching and education.  Our philosophies mesh well.  So, luckily, I have my new co-teacher lined up for next year.  I’m excited about all of the possibilities that exist.  We’ll be able to continue to grow and develop our program so that our students are receiving the best possible education in the sixth grade.  I look forward to working closely with her next year and beyond.  I’m psyched to start planning for next year now.

Yes, I’m heartbroken to be losing such a great friend and co-teacher, but change is a vital part of life.  Her life is changing and so is mine.  The sixth grade will be changing next year as well.  We will continue to strengthen our already amazing program.  I’m sure we’ll try new things, test out new projects, and take some risks.  Some things will fail and some will become staples in our curriculum.  No matter what, everything will happen because it’s supposed to happen.  Like our campus is currently in the process of doing, changing from winter to spring, so must I change and adapt.  Perhaps I’ll sprout a new branch or bud to prepare for all the changes to come.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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