Where Did I Leave My Cheese? Moving Practice, One Slice at a Time
By: Lisa Manross
One of the most difficult things about my job as a personalized learning coach is shifting teacher practice or “moving cheese” so to speak. When I first began my job, I really did not know what to expect or exactly what my future held. Only being in my school for a few months, I can honestly say that I was surprised by the connection I quickly felt to the teachers and administrative staff. I find myself constantly looking for the best ways to help move their practices to personalized learning and wanting them to succeed. It has become my passion and desire to become a part of the school culture and build relationships with each one of them. I know I do not have all of the answers nor do I think I should, but every day I appreciate the teachers who give their everything to provide students with new innovative lessons and work tirelessly to make it happen, even though it is not perfect. I am humbled by not only who they are as teachers but by their integrity and spirit as well.
As we travel this road together, challenges surface that we must work through in order to create learning environments where students are engaged and go beyond what is expected. Some are self-imposed barriers and some are just everyday barriers that students and teachers face through the constraints of our educational system. It is my experience, that if we want students engaged then we need to foster a love of knowledge where students can take control of their learning. This can be a daunting task as teachers are used to being the person who delivers the content and creates the activities. Letting go of the control means trusting that students really do want to learn and that their ideas are valuable. We all want to be heard and feel like we are contributing to something greater.
“Moving cheese” takes time, patience, and a lot of reflection on what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to change. It takes dedication to the work and getting messy through the process. It takes living through the process and having courageous conversations to propel teachers and students to the next level. It takes focus, revising plans, regrouping thoughts, and processing ideas differently to find the balance. It takes passion, dedication, and the willingness to fail to find ourselves as the new 21st-century educator. It takes dedicated PLC’s to create a culture of trust and encourage change. As teachers step into the challenge of shifting their practices, we should proceed with compassionate caution. If we are not careful, we will create pockets of teachers asking “where did I leave my cheese?”, as they are wanting to hold on to their old practices and feel left behind. One thing is for sure, it can’t be done alone or in isolation. As we go through this journey of new discovery, we will conquer many mountains, trudge through several valleys, and often swim upstream looking for answers. This work takes a community of committed individuals striving for the success of ALL students, bridging the waters with each other’s knowledge and expertise.
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