Our district is going through some major changes. Our high schools are going to block schedule and are moving to having academies instead of being comprehensive high schools. With the new changes, teachers have professional development sessions to attend over the summer. One, in particular, is Highly Effective Teaming, but when our department went to sign up, we read that all teachers should sign up EXCEPT world languages and Phy. Ed. What? Why not? Aren’t we global within the academies? I spoke up at the department meeting asking why this is and administration didn’t know why, but would find out from the powers above.
Our department chair has done a great job advocating for us and asked us for questions that we want answered. As with any department, not all of our views align so the amount of questions being asked by any given department member go from none to LOTS. I find myself mad that some teachers had no questions. We are supposed to have questions. We are supposed to be nervous. We are supposed to share similar ideas and expectations. We are a united department, right? As I was sitting at my desk, I was scrolling through Twitter and came upon this picture. (I do not remember who I saw it from so please let me know if it was you. I took a screen shot so I don’t have the name.)
As I was looking at the picture, I thought to myself: I am a hypocrite and have been for a while. When I came into my district four years ago, I was super excited to teach Spanish after a year of teaching ESL, but I was also excited to be teaching in my hometown. Because I was new, I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers so I went by the textbook and followed the curriculum guide. I would change things here and there, but for the most part, I stayed the path. Starting in my second year, I began to discover amazing blogs and CI/ TPRS practices. I learned different methods of teaching that would further my students’ proficiency in the language. Little by Little, I moved away from the textbook and created (with the help of a great friend and colleague) new materials for almost every unit that I was teaching. In my mind, I knew that what I was doing was best for my students. The kids were responding and I couldn’t have been happier.
I began to be more vocal at department meetings and began to ask questions that pushed the thinking of our department. There was some tension in the department as methods clashed. I kept on my path and kept pushing for change, but it took the picture today and some changes to our department for me to realize that maybe I was wrong in my ways. I sat in meetings pushing for change and speaking what I thought was best for everyone, but I never listened hard enough to hear what others had to say. Although I knew that my students were improving, I never thought about how they would be in other teachers’ classes as well as how my students would do without the same information that other classes were covering. Would my students be behind? Will they be at a disadvantage? I never considered the position that I put the other teacher in as well. I took my classroom into my own hands, but never considered anyone else’s ideas. How can I inspire people to change if I myself haven’t been open to others and their points of view?
I came into the district hoping to be in an united department because I hadn’t been in one since I began teaching. I thought it was others who weren’t very accepting, but I am starting to see how I haven’t been either. I am hoping that with time, we can come to some type of agreement and begin to collaborate and work together for our students since they are the ones who will suffer if we don’t. How do we get there? I don’t know, but I will find my way. I have faith in that.