I love my job. It’s different every day. I get to meet new people all the time. It’s creative. I travel to places I probably wouldn’t go otherwise. So what’s not to love? The fact that I don’t feel free to make mistakes. As a teacher I loved experimenting with new lessons or new ways to talk to kids. I wasn’t afraid of “failure” because most of the time nobody was watching. And kids are very forgiving. (Either that or they don’t notice when a lesson is a dud.)
But as a staff developer, I feel like I always have to be “on.” Always have to be the expert. So I stick to tried and true approaches. No-fail lessons. This year, though, I vowed to change that. I decided that I would try new things. Yes, while teachers and coaches and principals and superintendents watched. I decided to try new ways of being with kids. I let kids “perform” poetry before rehearsing. I let students run minilessons. I allowed kids to share their interpretations of text without making sure they saw “what the author really meant.”
And guess what? I learned. I learned that little kids can make music in the moment and don’t always need to practice for their peers. I learned that a kid’s version of a minilesson is very different than mine, but that my new goal is to get kids to teach minilessons at least once a week. And I learned that there are very interesting ways to interpret any text, if we just give kids a chance to explain their thinking and don’t butt in with ours.
I also learned that I don’t always have to be the expert. And that’s very freeing.