How much professional development is enough? How many hours of personal study can make you an expert? What is the responsibility of school leaders to ensure that their staff feels prepared? Whose job is it to align materials, resources, and curriculum to the new standards? How will we know we are truly ready?
These are just a few of the exhausting questions that I am still pondering as I step into 2014. Yes, exhausting…I feel mental exhaustion from the amount of energy, time, and money that has been spent on trying to get a true grasp on what needs to be done to really prepare my students and myself. One realization that I have come to in the midst of my “exhaustion” has been that no matter how much I study the actual standards, no matter how much money I spend on new materials or time searching the internet for new resources, I will not be able to truly lead my students down the path unless I actually shift my instructional practices and mindset.
It is clear to me now that I must make drastic changes to “the way” I teach and the classroom environment that I have so routinely managed over the years. I must move the desks into collaborative pods, stop teaching front and center, slow down the pace, give more time to the students to problem solve and create, minimize the use of worksheets, give-up the homework war, and better utilize technology as a way to engage, enhance, and differentiate for every learner. Wish me luck!