Pernille’s Ripp strikes a rich chord in me, now retired and pre-writing a piece for the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English journal. The topic of this year’s journal is,”Transformative Teaching in the 21st Century: Teachers as Catalysts for Change.” In my newly acquired status, one that affords me the TIME to consider ideas, blog posts, journals, webinars, from outside the immediacy and pressure of implementing them every day in the classroom, I nod my head in agreement with the reality Ripp depicts. Many teachers (dare I say most?) spend their teaching lives transforming themselves and their classrooms, responsive to the needs of their students, their “kids,” and well-aware that out there in the wide world of research and publication, there are undoubtedly techniques and approaches that might help them accomplish this even better if they only had the time to find them. I am fully aware of the irony of my situation: now I have the least opportunity to enact the strategies that I’m discovering in a classroom with real students while I enjoy the ability, the free time I have, to make those very possibly transformative discoveries. So I keep sending anything I find to my former colleague who, like Pernille, is on the frontline, innovating in every way possible, keeping my fingers crossed that I can still contribute something from this vantage point, still and ever “staying” a proud educator.
It has been building for a while. This idea that teachers need to “just” innovate more. That we need to break the system, try a new idea every day. That we need to just do more. Just do it better. Just be more.
But that little word “just” has such a huge implication.
It tells me that what I am doing is not already innovative.
That what I am doing is not enough.
That I am not good enough, nor enough for the very kids I teach.
That if I only would “just” be a better teacher then perhaps all kids would run into my classroom with a smile on their face and beg me not to send them home.
But I teach real live children who have friendships, and emotions, and families, and lives to live and so no, I don’t get offended when they don’t run into my classroom…
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