Hearts don’t change…that is what I believe. Yes, hearts can grow bigger or smaller. Your mind can be changed, but not your heart. Decisions have to be made with your mind and heart. One of the hardest decisions I have made was back in 2007. I was pondering the thought of changing school districts. I went back through my teaching journals and found the entry dated July 2010 and there was a folded article taped onto the page that read across the top “practicing our beliefs.” and then in my handwriting, “this is how I felt when I changed schools.”
Have you ever seen the old children’s toy where you have to turn the three-dimensional pieces to get them to fit through a shaped hole and then they fall into a plastic container? Some pieces don’t fit through some of the openings and some don’t fit unless they are turned every which way. That toy comes to mind when I was contemplating a change. My heart did not match the teaching beliefs at my current school at the time. My experience tells me hearts don’t change.
The decision-making process started in January when I called an old high school friend about some curriculum questions. She told me at the end of the conversation, there was an opening at her school. They were doing balanced literacy,small guided groups and the principal was willing to try new things. After I hung up the phone, I sat there thinking about the possiblity. I thought to myself, ” I like to try new things, just in a cautious way. I want to teach with the balanced literacy mind-set, and I want to do small group instruction with conferencing. The conversation that night planted a seed that maybe I needed a change of heart. My heart belonged to my current school, my school where I started as a student in kindergarten and became a graduate of twelve years later. I had close friends there, they had witnessed my wedding with me, two pregnancies, my father’s death and watched me grow from a first year teacher to a more experienced one. There was a little piece of me started to wonder over the last year if I was teaching in the right school. Over the last five years, the curriculum had shifted. Our math curriculum was based on a teaching script and that did not allow creativity or flexibility. The reading curriculum was a textbook (basal) driven approach. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that curriculum is wrong..it just does not fit with my core beliefs. I felt like I had grown enough in my ability to assess, diagnose and deliver tailored instruction that I knew I could do better.
Choices in decisions can be empowering. Over the next weeks, I found myself with three questions to choose from: (1) Am I able to practice my beliefs? If the answer is yes, smile and enjoy the feeling that comes when you know where you are belong. (2) If the answer is maybe, examine a bit farther to see what you can do to influence decisions in your school and/or classroom. (3) If the answer is no, you have a few choices. You can elect to stay and choose to be positive while practicing a vision someone else has for you; you can stay and become one of the negative people that taints the school; you can stay and work to influence the decisions regarding assessment and instruction; or you can start looking for a place that matches your beliefs. Over the next few months, it seemed like I was leaning towards looking for a place that matched my beliefs. I think the place found me the night I called my friend.
The decision-making process from February to May was life-changing. My problem solving process haunted me usually between the hours of 9:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. each night. I would lay in bed and think and think and think. It became a visualizing exercise of sorts or maybe dreams or maybe even nightmares at times. I was a 39 year old woman wanted to change jobs. Was I crazy? I would lay there covers up to my neck and think to myself, “pretend you are still teaching at your current school-how does it feel? O,k., safe and comfortable, but something wasn’t right. Now switch gears, imagine how it feels to be teaching at the new school? Scary, new, uncomfortable, but something felt right. AAAHHHH, decisions, choices, changes are so hard!”. as I willed myself to some kind of peaceful sleep.
Well, I finally did make a decision to go to the interview and tour the new school. It was exciting to meet a principal full of possiblities, a different environment and the thought of teaching where the philosophy of the school matched my beliefs. I kept telling myself I didn’t have to decide until they offered me a job. I was older teacher, many schools wanted younger teachers with lower beginning salaries. I received a call and then I made a decision, “Yes, I would love to become a part of a new team.” It would be a change for my heart, and not a change of heart. It was a journey and I was ready to embark.
Article came from the The Two Sisters tip of the week-July 10, 2009.