I recently discovered Peg with Pen, and in particular her post “A Quick Guide for Resisting from Within for Educators.” I appreciate this list for a variety of reasons–especially her exhortation to take the high road, when educators have good reason to go for low blows–but it was the second item on her list that caught me:
Open the door.
In the context of the post, opening the door is about letting the greater community see the goodness and light in your classroom, instead of seeking to protect it from the potential harm that could be brought by outside forces.
In my head, however, this statement was also about opening the door as an individual teacher, to yourself and your practice.
I’m fortunate to work at a school where we (literally) keep our doors open all the time — and I work with colleagues who I trust to wander in, jump into class discussions and activities, and give me useful feedback whenever they feel like it.
But in the last year or so, I’ve also opened my door to other parties. I’ve scaled up the Student Assistant Teachers in my classroom so that I typically have one in every section that I teach. I said yes to a university researcher, who took transcripts in my class for two years, blew my mind with her doctoral thesis, suggested that I write an article (published) and apply to a national conference (accepted), and eventually inspired me to overhaul my entire approach to the 10th grade curriculum (more on that later). I had no idea that partnership was going to be so fruitful for me. At the time, it didn’t even occur to me that it could turn into a partnership.
This year, I also finally took on a student teacher from the same program I completed six years ago. I got a freshly-minted colleague from September until April, and my students got an addition to their “teaching team,” which usually means three people. I cannot emphasize how awesome this is.
Despite the ongoing threat that my school district will crumble into dust, It’s been a really good year, thanks to the folks around me that were willing to step into my classroom and professional life.
So, who can help you? You should really open the door for them.
(Admittedly, the second half this year was not such a good one for this blog… considering a more regular schedule for 2014.)