I just finished reading a blog from Mike Poliquin, whom I have found causes me to think, think, think. I like this, sometimes it is tiring, but always rewarding. I hear him saying he is struggling with some of the same issues I am finding myself struggling. The educators around him are having difficulty finding joy, and the energy to take away something from PD, and interactions with other professionals afforded them. I am finding the same thing occurring in my district, a smaller arena than he has had to work in lately, but still enough to cause me discouragement and fatigue.
This is causing me to reflect on my practice, attitude, and the interactions I have with the educational professionals around me. I am currently working at the district level, mainly on my own time with compensation, along with my full schedule of teaching, at the request of the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, to help implement CCSS Mathematics in our district. My focus occurs for the most part at the secondary level, but I am also looking vertically at implementation and consequences of instruction. My co-workers have mostly been positive about this, relieved on one hand that they don’t have to do the work, and happy to have information immediately as our administration does not seem to believe that teachers need to know what is going on. I have recently experienced some negative interactions with my administration over this, learning from a colleague that they feel, “I know too much”. I was angered by this at first, and now realize that is just another reaction to someone doing a job that they either don’t want to do, or realize they probably couldn’t do.
I was at a Saturday follow-up to the Bay Area Mathematics Project yesterday, conducted through UC Berkeley. I too was astounded at the responses when Dan Meyer’s name was brought up, from “He’s depressing” to “Why try to do what he does, no one else could do what he does”. I’ve often struggled with hearing people make statements like this, especially when they are given the opportunities to learn from people who are showing us what excellence can look like. I am forever grateful to educators and other professionals who are striving for what excellence looks like to them and are willing to share their struggles, failures and successes with people like me, who learn from them and strive for our own brand of excellence, no matter where it may fall on the continuum, and hope that we can keep from comparing ourselves with them, but be aware of where we are and continue to strive to improve. I realize that is a tall order, but I will strive for the best I can be as long as I have any strength and ability in me.
Those of you out there who are young, and by that I mean younger than me, at an energetic 52 years of age, I challenge you to focus on who you are, the strengths you have been given, and strive to expand those things at all times. Learn from those around you, talk to others about what you are doing and believe that you too have something to offer others. We may not win all the battles, but we can bring something to the battlefield, each and every one of us.
Thanks for all you do, and I mean it!