This post is inspired by Invisibilia’s podcast episode available here:

“You think that there is some essence of who you are that will endure regardless of the situation or the context but the fact is this is actually not the case.” 

The longer I’ve worked in schools, the more I’ve come to believe in our ability to transform, our capacity to construct our very own chrysalis.  But, time after time, I do hear people question whether or not people change and debate the power of personality.

Educators, perhaps more than any other profession, should advocate for a definition of self that is adaptable.

Transformation flickr photo by Marie-Pierre et Nathalie shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Like most opportunities to advocate, the learning needs to start from within.

How can we start to allow our ‘teacher-selves’ to see ourselves as adaptable?

Here are three approaches towards a self-reflection rethink for teachers:

  1. What mythology of your practice have you told yourself? 

When you think of your teaching style, how have you come to define it? Which anecdotes about educating have you most-shared about yourself, and why have they been ‘share-worthy’ in your mind?  Why is it important for you to match that definition? Where and when did you learn to be ‘that teacher’?

Then think: what would change if you abandoned that definition for a month? If you were to redefine the portrait of you, the educator, what ONE WORD would you want to introduce to the new definition and why?

      2.  Host office mix and match up week.

If you sit in an office with colleagues, pick one week to mix up departments.  If your classroom is in a corridor/section of similar subjects, relocate for a week.  If you aren’t in a classroom, but are in an office–move your office to a different location for a week, ie relocate into the library, or a public space.

Then think: how much of my definition of self comes from my routine surroundings?  What is one thing that changed as the direct result of the fresh perspective? 

        3. Rethink your next staff meeting.

Instead of zigging, zag.  When is the last time your meeting’s objective was to get to understand the way your colleagues think? The way you think? Here is my map for hosting a meeting as an open discussion, complete with prompts, questions, and sign ups–feel free to copy and remix. Here is the question guide for that meeting structure:

Then think: what about staff meetings limit our understanding of one another as educators? How can we maximize meeting time to rethink what we want our definitions of educators as educators to be?

Feature Image:
“Tent Caterpillar – Mother Natures Finest Weaver” flickr photo by docentjoyce shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license