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That doesn’t sound like something a teacher would embrace, does it? Most of us work very hard to ensure that we minimize disruption in our classrooms through routines, clear expectations, and serious planning. But this is a different kind of disruption. I want to disrupt the system. I want to disrupt the status quo in education. I want to throw out the laminated binders and worksheets from the 1980s that might look like they actually came off of ditto or mimeograph machines. I want teachers to stop being reactive and instead become proactive. I want the passive nature of educators to be a thing of the past and I want them to step-up and engage meaningfully with the work they do with clear intention and a deep understanding of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ in their classrooms. I want the school system to take a giant leap forward into the 21st century so that our kids have a learning experience that doesn’t look like the same school experience of their parents and their grandparents. I want the value of education to skyrocket, not because we’re great childcare, but because what we’re doing for this generation of learners will have widespread impact on the world. I want to disrupt by having us wake-up and act because we see the potential that is being lost inside the giant machine of bureaucracy. It sounds like I want to burn it all down. I don’t. That would be too many good things that we’ve learned collectively being lost. I do want deliberate, thoughtful, intentional progress being led by the teachers. I want that progress to be initiated and implemented by us, in our classrooms, daily.


It sounds like I’m asking for too much in a time when we’ve all got so much going on and more demands being added daily. I understand that saying let’s start again is unreasonable and it’s not attainable. What I do want is a deep reflection about our current practice and materials. I want teachers to examine what they do and begin sorting it into categories. These categories should be owned by each individual teacher so they can articulate why it belongs in their classroom. For example, do you keep it because it best addresses a curriculum expectation and students demonstrate significant comprehension, thinking, and enjoyment while completing the task? Are you keeping it because you just created it and you think it has potential but it needs further refinement. Are you tossing it because it was a filler activity you bought off the Internet that really doesn’t meet your teaching goals? Are you keeping the duotang system of organization in your classroom because your school doesn’t have access to technology so there is a lot of paper distributed in your room? I’m asking you to think about each item you use, each activity you assign, each routine in your classroom. I want you to think about “why” it is something you do. This shouldn’t add significantly to your workload at the outset. It’s as simple as each time you do something this school year, decide when it’s finished if it's worth keeping or needs revision for the next time. I want us to do better each day, each time, with each class. Sure, you’ll find that you have some work the next time you teach this class or course as you fill the holes that remain. But you’ll also know that you’ll replace it with something better because you’re in the mindset of 'why'. Nothing will get added if you don’t know why it is there.


A revolution only works when like minded people join together. I know “Professional Learning Community” sounds like edubabble or a marketing ploy, but it’s actually the key to the success of changing the system. Each teacher needs to find their network. It could be your teaching partner, a teacher down the hall, another teacher in your district, or an online community. You want to find educators who are caring about 'why'. Rather than surrounding yourself with lots of unconnected ideas through your social media feeds, filter your time through the lens of “how does this help me or my students?”. Is this something I was looking for or am I excited for another reason? Is this something new for the sake of trying something new or is it an extension of what I do already, but better? And before running off to try the new “buzz”, seek out trusted colleagues in your community to determine the value. Consider each new strategy or tool as an experiment. Put it through a test phase before deciding it belongs in your toolbelt or planning binder. The professional dialogue with your network will help you to refine your thinking and for the team or group to all take on deciding value. The team will also be your encouragement and support should the new idea fail or be unsuccessful. As each network gets better, our classrooms get better. As our classrooms get better, our schools get better. Ultimately, we the teachers with our small, meaningfully selected changes, will be the revolution that moves our education system forward.

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