Monday, May 26, 2014

Temporary messes in teaching

They are remodeling our high school media center this summer and the place is a mess right now. It got me thinking of how sometimes a mess is necessary for change, but first a little remembering on my part. 

I found this picture in a stack of everything that's in storage and I had to point it out. Our principal had some of us pose with our kids for a "READ" poster years ago. That's me and my two kids. They're both teens now, so I do mean years ago! Aren't they adorable? 

But back to the temporary mess. In the process of changing a building around we see the signs: "Don't mind our mess". It's understood that the change or move to something new and improved is going to look ugly for a while. 

How come it's not so accepted when it comes to a change in a teaching practice? Why do teachers feel a need to have it perfect the first time they try PBL or when they start flipping the classroom? 

I'm working with a high school teacher right now who's trying a new project in Geometry. He's integrating a lot of tech and things are a little chaotic this time around. We are all learning together and we don't know now if test scores on the unit will be as high as they would have been with the teacher's usual approach.

But is that a bad thing, or is it just the necessary mess as we move to something better? The truth is the students are learning a lot. There is a load of teamwork, problem solving and tech skills coming at them (and us). In all honesty we know they might not pick up as much of the course content as we'd like as we work toward change. It's an investment, though, and a first step in a process that will get better each time we do it in the future. 

I'm thankful for teachers willing to make the move and the temporary mess. I'm grateful for principals who understand and encourage it. 

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