When I see you from the back of the classroom, time takes me to the classrooms where I first began my journey in teaching. Journey may be a well over-worn cliche, however, that is exactly what teaching is – a learning journey which spirals into fractuals, kaleidoscopes, never ending. No matter how well you do on your training projects, no matter how well you have read pedagogical theories and approaches, let me share with you: the best teaching has little to do with trends and bandwagons of variable truths. Your best lessons will come from your heart and soul as you connect with students, as you stumble across the minefields of classroom management, as you walk in a haze through corridors wondering how to plot the next best lesson.
I delight with the sparkle in your eyes, I recognise the despair of being unsure what to next when students do not keep quiet, I smile softly as I see you lost in a maze of options. Yes, those moments will be your daily bread from now onwards. Be prepared to deal with them calmly.
Focus on why you are an educator. That is your policy. That is what comes first and foremost – fine tuning your skills as an educator, sharing with students and colleagues alike. Yes. I know. You tell me I am a dreamer and this does not make sense. Dear Colleague, education is a process of joy; each educator is responsible for his/her choices and accountable to their educational community. Strive to be a positive educator, one who solves problems instead of creating stumbling blocks which lead nowhere.
Be fearless and tread those classroom gardens with joy. Yes, there will be days in the shape of monsters. Just as there will be moments which will remain with you all your life – a thank you, the look of achievement, the moment of finally putting pieces together and understanding. There is no financial gain for those moments. And they are yours to cherish and share.
Dear Colleague, throw out fear. Don’t isolate yourself, your worries and concerns; your classroom may have walls and doors, but the world is open. Your students live wall-less. Education is no longer to be kept locked – open all the locks for your students and keep yourself up-to-date by connecting with others.
If millions connect for social purposes today, (below is a mere example), you too can find others to connect with. As you participate in those networks and exchange ideas, thoughts and form your new ones, encourage students to become responsible digital citizens as well. Show them how they too can make the internet a learning ecology.
Dear Colleague, I ramble on, trying to pick on my own chaotic learning. Welcome to the world of teaching! Messy, chaotic challenging, interconnected and in flowing change! Let go of the past images of teachers; be prepared for power shifts in classrooms; never forget those in front of you need a place of joy, safety, intellectual stimulus. Often it is the only place where they can feel safe.
And let go. Let go of perfectionist ideals in and of classrooms. They do not exist. Each classroom will host a unique culture. Finding a balance between reality and educational dreams will become your daily routine.
Dear Colleague, I must surely have bored you by now. Do not look so alarmed.
Smile – the world of education is a joy; despite all its trials and tribulations, there are few professions which touch the heart of humans as the intricate, ever-changing, ever-challenging world of learning. Connecting, smiling, letting learners know you are there for them; simplicity has its place in education as well.
Dear Colleague, heed the wise words of others, of those who challenge you to inquire, to seek answers to questions not yet asked. For it is you who will then bring these seeds of inquiring and learning to others.
Yours Learning as Always,
Christensen, C., 2013, Why Online Education is Ready for Disruption Now
Shareski, D., 2013, It Takes All Kinds : Teachers