Wednesday, January 7, 2015

One Word for 2015

"Toggle light switch" from Funpikia from Wikimedia 
I just finished reading Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. It was a great book. One of those reads that makes you think after you read it, “Geez, that’s all really logical stuff. Why didn’t I think of that?” I love books like that. I’m always struck the same way by books by Malcolm Gladwell: an idea that’s so intuitive and makes perfect sense.

So, as both my #gtaatx and #youredustory friends are talking about what their one word for 2015, it seems like it would make sense for my one word to be Switch.

Switch (the book) talks about what people can do to make change happen. It looks at the things you can do to ease the difficult process of change from three viewpoints: that of the Elephant, the Rider, and the Path. It does this from a perspective of a leader, but also from the perspective of a person trying to make change without a lot of power.

For me, the word switch resonates for several reasons. I am lucky to get to keep my students for two full years. I’m one semester into that: we just started our second semester together yesterday. In addition to teaching my students (giving them opportunities to learn and sharpen?) some important reading and argumentation skills, I work hard to try to switch my students’ perception of school generally as well as of what history class is and can be.

It seems like this should be an easy thing: I’m working from a position of power - I’m the teacher. However, nine years of schooling before they’ve gotten to me has inculcated an understanding of the game of school as well as how to play it. I battle against that as I try to switch the perception of and expectation for school in my students.*

In addition to trying to switch my students’ perceptions of school, I’m also trying to shift the instruction at my school to be more student-centered. This is a tougher shift, as I’m a teacher without any real authority to ask for a change in instructional practice. This goal has morphed (I believe) into my action plan coming out of the Google Teacher Academy. We’ll see how it goes.

Both switches are worthy, high goals. I look forward to working on these switches as this year - and probably next year as well - unfolds.

*Sidenote: I did have an old student come in today and say a teacher wasn’t really teaching her because they were just lecturing. That made me smile.