I am roughly halfway through what I have taken to calling “my year of teaching dangerously”. Granted teaching is not generally thought of as a dangerous job. We are more the protective empathetic group. We are not thought of as professional risk- taker, as much as we are professional supporters. Educators are more about tested and proven than we are cutting edgy and experimental. However, this year I have been trying the edgy by having students own the learning and experimenting by letting them make the decisions. Adding to that danger factor, I do not do any of this in my own classroom.
I gave up the structured security of instructional coaching, in a school I knew, with teachers I respected and administrators I admired to try to kick-start a maker-learning program throughout our district.
The path of my quest to enhance the learning in our corner of the world has changed, stumbled, developed, stalled, and sprouted. Over the last 6 months so it feels like a good time to step back and get some perspective.
There is a weight to this year of teaching dangerously. When I succeed in building good lessons loaded with student agency both teachers and students get excited by the work being done as well as the possibilities implied. When I flop, it is done openly and honestly with sheepish smiles and input from everyone but not generally with an invitation to return.
- I have always thought of myself as a learner, but My year of teaching dangerously has turned me into a student again.
- I spend my school hours swinging like a pendulum between wanting to be given the answer and wanting to find it on my own.
- I am frequently mired down in uncertainty and doubt.
- I have had asked more questions since September than I can count.
- I have had to learn the dull and dry material to make the most of the cool stuff I really want to learn, and I have had moments of inspiration and ones fell flat.
- I want to be learning about the things that matter to me but I am willing and able to put in the effort to make the connections between what I need and what I want. I want to try ideas out, even if it is just to see how it fails.
- hate the deadlines and pressure and justifications that feel arbitrary and shallow, but I admit that, at least to some extent, they have kept me on task and vigilant.
In the last six months, I have done some of the best teaching of my career.
Because of that single fact alone, I would have to say that my year of teaching dangerously is going well. I would like more clarity on the future of this quest, and more feedback from those that make choices. Although I know that most students have anxiety about the future and crave meaningful feedback so perhaps wonderings are a natural consequence being a learner.