jumping off the deep end

My second year as a teacher looks drastically different than my first.  And we’ve only been in school for 10 days (thanks, epic flooding of 2011.)

I expected that there would be some changes–hopefully all for the better–this year in that I would know my way around my classroom and my curriculum, my room would not be ab-so-lute-ly bare as it was at the beginning of last year, and I would be more familiar and comfortable with the way things run at my school.

But…I never expected to have such clarity, such confidence, in teaching as my vocation.  And I never expected to be catapulted into a journey that I believe is ultimately leading me to a more meaningful method of learning, discovering, and exploring the way education is shifting toward how we (and our students) learn, and the act of learning in general as opposed to just a focus on the what.

This push, nudge, bump in the direction of becoming a better learner myself and then translating that knowledge to my students through what I do with them in the classroom initially had me choking on the dust in which I was left by technology and its crazy, going-so-fast-all-you-see-is-a-perfect-circle-RoadRunner-esque feet.  Luckily, I was saved when I was invited to join a technology team and participate in the year-long action research professional development program run by the PLP Network.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into…

This morning at 8:30, just as the kickoff event was about to begin, I was standing on a diving board, toes curled over the edge, peering down into a dark, daunting, endless pool of water.  I couldn’t see the bottom.  But, the minute we started, the instant I began to participate in this new learning community, I was poised on that diving board, ready to jump….

And then I did.

Of all the things I learned today–from shifting our thinking away from the notion that teachers in the classroom have all the answers to being comfortable with and aware of the fact that most of our students’ teachers are out in the world waiting for our students to find them–to social media tools that can help facilitate learning in the classroom–to dispelling the notion that strangers (read:  educated, connected, intelligent, thoughtful people who can add to your knowledge base and help you learn and network) are not all that bad–what resonated with me most was this:

I am a learner first.  We, teachers, are learners first.  Learners always.

Yes, I am a teacher.  I take that role seriously–it is part of my life force, the reason I wake up in the morning, the vocation that makes me miss being with my students and makes me feel anxious to get back to the classroom the next morning even when I’ve been at school until 9:30 on Back to School Night.

But if we do not commit ourselves to being learners, to continuing our own education, how can we expect to give our students our best and how can we expect them to do the same?

As a teacher, my focus is on my learners, first.  Guiding them, teaching them, keeping the delicate balance between sharing what I know, my expertise, and allowing them to demonstrate theirs.

I am role model.  I am tour guide. I am storyteller.  I am teacher.

But, I am learner first.

I’ve already jumped off the deep end.

Come on in, the water’s fine.