I just returned from Orlando. The sunny, warm weather was a contrast to the chilly, wet weather. Each time I travel to a conference, I feel exhausted when I return. I barely had a chance to recover from the AMLE Conference in Columbus, Ohio, before I headed to the KDP Convocation in Florida. Now, I am recovering from both trips. I’m not just physically exhausted, but mentally exhausted as well. I absolutely love the atmosphere of a conference. I equally love the learning that takes place, but with so many great ideas, practical teaching methods, and integral pieces of research, my mind starts to swirl like the Oz tornado. Of course, this is all good. It comes down to moving from a sunny, energetic, stimulating moment to a calmer, cloudier, sit-by-the-fire processing moment. Even though I am tired, I love both moments.
In reflecting on the KDP Convocation, I was drawn to several topics. Alex Kajitani commented, “In order for students to be fully engaged, teachers need to be fully engaged.” This struck me because, too often, I hear teachers either blame the curriculum or blame the students reference class boredom. It is, however, passion that can create a stimulus for learning. It is at these times that it may be necessary, as Joel Laguna stated, to, “Let go, be bold, take risks.” Teaching is a rewarding career, but it teachers should not be tied to a curriculum. Teachers should have the freedom to illicit student inquiry, as well as their own inquiry regarding the subjects, and classes, they teach. This can require taking a risk. We, teachers, need to tear down walls and be willing to put ourselves out there. We may fail, but we have to give ourselves permission to fail.
Dr. Pasi Sahlberg framed the difficult job of teaching as “Teaching is not rocket science, it is more complicated than that.” Reaching the needs of all students and setting unlimited expectations for all is foundational to our role as educators. Too often excuses get in the way. While many of these excuses can be legitimate, we have an important job to conduct.
I think this is why I am advocating for using movement. I took a risk to challenge the status quo of what I had envisioned a productive classroom to look like. I was wrong. As I continue to grapple with and explore the adolescent mind, it is apparent that movement in the classroom is a critical component to helping students achieve maximum potential in my classroom. I presented to sessions at KDP: an edTalk (Moving to Manage), and a workshop (Moving the Reluctant Reader). Teaching is much more than just content. While it is scary to move thinking beyond standardized testing and content knowledge, it is necessary to keep the needs of the whole child at the forefront of our decision-making process.