I have spoken a lot about the choices of my kids on my blog. As I approach the final lap of my journey in the classroom, I have been reflecting more deeply on my own choices. It is the choices that I make that I make now that will be my enduring legacy on my students.
Till August last year, my co-fellow and I had managed to effectively drive the love of learning, immaculate classroom systems, urgent and thorough collaborative planning, mind-boggling consistency in teacher action and a sense of belonging to a team working towards a shared vision. My classroom was on a path of transformation.
Starting September, everything started going downhill. My thought partner, co-teacher and friend quit the school team. My stable class that was on its tipping point of its journey went through three configuration changes. And while all this was happening, I got married and chased my dream job to further take my focus away from the classroom.
If I look back at the last few months, my team was trying to keep our grade level ship afloat. We succeeded at that. We honestly had not thought about this extreme eventuality of a reduced team considering how strongly we were placed in our respective content areas and classrooms at the start. We were not prepared to deal with the turn of events.
However, the unexpected tremors distances one part of our kids from us and a part of us from each of our kids. Setting shared values, language and beliefs is the most time consuming and mentally and emotionally draining activity. Increased and repetitive work on class culture coupled with reduced time frames have deeply impacted the pace of our journey towards our goals. In many ways, we have taken many steps backward on that journey.
Standing where I am and looking at the turbulent journey I have had, I feel drained and demotivated. While I have a vision on the wall, I have sensed my own conviction has gone amiss. While I have preached values, I have found it incredibly hard to show the same every minute of every day in the classroom. While I have excellent lesson plans, I have not been able to reignite that love of learning in the kids. All the pent up negativity because of the gap between where the class is and where we could have been shows up in the form off outbursts, scolding and hopelessness in front of my kids.
I am strong and I will not break. However, the problem is when 'NOT' breaking becomes the goal. A negative goal leads to a negative mindset. Your focus changes from students being interested and hardworking to students NOT breaking rules. Your focus changes from driving students towards excellence to students NOT failing an exam. You find problems instead of solutions. You scrutinize the actions of your children through a microscope instead of looking at yourself in the mirror. That itself is against the fundamental strength of my uphill climb in the first 9 months of 2014.
I have a little more than a month left with my children and I have a choice. I can deliver outcomes in exam by being an autocratic consequence-giving machine. If I continue on the path I am on, I will undo my legacy on the lives of my children. However, I want to bring the class back on track by making it democratic and value-driven. I have done it in the past. I can do it again.
Henceforth, I will again work with the belief that all children can learn. It's their present and not their past choices that decide their future. What my children collectively believe inside the classroom can undo the effects of what each child individually learns. As long as they have one another to show them the right path, they will succeed without me. My own conduct will drive values in the classroom. Consequences or rewards are just a medium for continuity to the next year.
I want my children to remember me as a person who always believed in their ability to be excellent. I want my children to remember me as the teacher who saw the light in each of them. I want my students to remember me as the one who made them believe that their learning is in their own hands. That will be my legacy in our land of joy and change. And the journey will again start with me.