Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Change is not easy especially when you know change is necessary, but what to change is not clear. I have been teaching for 19 years and each year brings new challenges and no two years are alike. I shudder to think about what my teaching looked like along the way at times. Worksheets, homework, round robin reading and the list goes on and on. I can honestly say even though each year I grew it is nothing compared to the last few years. I started to reflect on what was happening in my classroom and it was time to make some major changes, because I knew if I wasn't interested in what I was teaching it was a pretty safe assumption my students were not either. They were disengaged as was I, which left me wondering how effective I was being even though I kind of knew the answer to that and it wasn't good. As George Couros asks "Would you want to be a learner in your own classroom?" and I could have confidently say NO!

So now what? I am fortunate enough to have a grade partner who was feeling the same way. We started small with flexible seating and reducing the amount of worksheets we used (thank goodness!) and since have completely changed the atmosphere and mindset in our 4th grade classrooms including Genius Hour and flipping our math instruction. Engagement became our focus and then it was clear there is more than just engagement and that is taking it to the next level of empowerment. These changes have not always been easy as each time we take a risk it is met with challenges, barriers and at times criticism by our colleagues. It has also been difficult to choose what changes to make, because there is so much out there to choose from or create. Focusing on what will have the biggest impact has been an enormous challenge for me. Luckily I have had help and guidance, which led me to a book by Katie Martin Learner Centered Innovation.

In her book Katie talks about what a 21st century classroom looks like and if I was asked what that was not all that long ago I would've said technology and how to use it in the classroom. Now I have learned that it is so much more. She says "No longer do students need to access teachers for content, but they desperately need teachers that guide them as they develop the skills, knowledge and disposition to be lifelong learners and critical consumers". Our role as teachers has changed and so has our students. I want and need to provide a classroom that I would want to be learner in. It is still not crystal clear what that looks like all the time, but it is definitely getting more clear. I look forward to the journey I will take as I read Learner Centered Innovation and reflect on my own teaching along the way.

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