In my work with a school in Ontario, I met a teacher who had a story that really resonated with me. As we were talking about the changes in school, she had shared with me and publicly with the group, how after three years on a maternity leave, she came back to a totally different place (school) from what she had remembered. If you think about all of the times that we see “school isn’t changing”, in many places, three years might seem like 30. It is a long time to be away.
The really powerful part of what she shared with everyone really took me back.
She told me that she was teaching “Mitosis” to her students with an overhead projector using transparencies, and Lisa told me, “It sucked so bad that I was bored”. It bothered her. You could see it in the way she told her story. She wanted to do better, but she wasn’t sure how to get there. I spent some time showing her and others some of the learning that can be done by connecting with experts (other teachers) through social media, and I explicitly told her that I was the last person to give her tips on teaching science, but I could help her connect with other science educators. She was amazed by everything that was out there. You could see her wheels turning and her eyes becoming wide open.
The best part of this story, is that this was only about three weeks ago. Then last week, she sent me the following tweet:
— Lisa Jones (@lisat_jones) October 30, 2014
How awesome is that? I showed her the “Twitter in 60 Seconds” video and in a very short time, she had her students create “Mitosis in 60 Seconds” videos.
In an extremely short time, she was shifting the focus from her teaching to their learning. I was so proud of what I had saw that I teared up when I saw it. Can you imagine when a teacher gets really excited about their learning, the difference that makes on their students? Lisa, in short, is awesome.
This just was a reminder that with so many educators the “want” is there, but sometimes they just need help to find the “way”.
Talking with Doug Peterson, he shared a story about how no educator gets up in the morning wanting to do a terrible job. The vast majority of teachers want to do great stuff for their kids, and we need to help each other to show the opportunities that exist now for ourselves and our students to really embrace better learning opportunities. I really believe that this single step for Lisa, is the first of many leading to some really great learning. When we want to get to greater heights, every step leads to building confidence and competence, and for many, that first step is the toughest. Watching Lisa, and feeling her enthusiasm for what she is doing, reminded me why I do what I do, and that change doesn’t need to take forever. That excitement from her is contagious.
Sometimes, that first step is all you need to go on to do something great.