So, all of you out there who are sick of hearing phrases such as the following:
“Teachers are resistant to change.”
“Teachers are refusing to change because they don’t want to have to work any harder.”
“We’re trying to change the schools, but the teachers don’t want to change.”
please put your hands up in the air.
Now wave them like you just don’t care.
Except, contrary to this popular belief, we do care.
Change is hard. For everyone. Last week I was on the phone with Mini Mimi’s pediatrician and the nurse who answered was clearly having a hard time adapting to the change in their phone system. When I stopped by one of my favorite restaurants to pick up a falafel (I HEART me some chickpeas), the person ringing me up complained about the change in registers. And when I was at the hospital five months ago having Mini Mimi? Guess what? You got it! The nurses were complaining about the change in diapers.
Did you see these individuals on the news being blamed for the failure of their respective businesses? Probably not. I’m sure the nurse was given adequate time to figure out the phones, the lady at the falafel place was given adequate support from her co-workers as she mastered the new register and the nurses? Well, I bet someone actually listened to them because I hear they are now using different diapers.
Do you see where I’m going with this, friends?
Personally, I don’t think teachers are resistant to change because we are hell bent on making sure schools fail, because, hey, who cares, we get summers off and oh by the way we need to walk out the door at 3. I think some teachers are resistant to change because they know that in twenty minutes or two weeks or two months or two years it’s all going to CHANGE AGAIN. And again. And again. And one more time just for ha has and/or to possibly mess with our heads. The Powers That Be can be crazy like that.
In my first year of teaching we used a scripted reading program, a games based math program, no particular writing curriculum and kind of made up science and social studies as we pleased. (I know, it’s probably OUR FAULT that no writing curriculum was purchased at the district or school level and that science and social studies were basically an after thought. THAT’S why we spent so much time after school trying desperately to fill those gaps…)
In my second year of teaching, we used a balanced literacy approach to reading and writing, began a brand new word study program and implemented a totally new math curriculum. Oh, and then the standards changed and we had to re-write all our science and social studies lessons.
In my third year of teaching, we actually kept the same reading, writing and math curricula but, don’t you worry! No stability here, folks! We totally changed word study programs and (you know it!) the science and social studies scope and sequence went through another overhaul which meant more time writing new units.
In my fourth year of teaching, we adopted yet another word study program (third times a charm?), instituted a battery of new tests and began to work in committees.
In my fifth year of teaching, things stayed the same. I got a taste of what it felt like to reflect upon the previous year and to thoughtfully improve my instruction. I began to experience what it was like to push myself professionally, to feel confident which in turn pushed me to work even harder. I started to….
Oh wait. Then I was asked to switch grade levels. Sorry professional upswing, time to start over!
On some level, because I am a sick and twisted individual who thrives on things moving at warp speed, I felt like I learned a lot by being exposed to so many different curricula, programs and philosophies. But my teaching? Well, that kept getting the rug pulled out from under it. I was left to feel like I was constantly treading water, waiting to drown at any moment. Let me just say that feeling like you are drowning does not do wonders for your professional confidence.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Does this woman ever stop complaining? Doesn’t she ever speak up and advocate for herself or her students?”
In fact, yes. Yes I did. Yes I DO. But, with very few people other than my fellow Super Colleagues listening and supporting me, speaking up was a bit like pissing into the wind.
(Yes, I went there.)
Maybe if I had been listened to. Maybe if I had been given the chance to achieve some sort of balance. Maybe if I had been asked what I think, what I need, what is working. Maybe if someone realized that constant change isn’t always a good thing and that perhaps by following every single trend that comes along, we’ve in fact crippled teachers, made them unable to adapt or see the value in changes that are made to their practice without their consideration.
Maybe sometimes change IS bad. And maybe, just maybe, sometimes it’s NOT the teacher’s fault.