This caught my eye as I drifted through the Twitterverse this morning. Decisions reflect commitment. Directions reflect compliance. In a 180 classroom the former is a cornerstone. In the absence of compliance-creating grades, students in the 180 classroom are daily faced with decisions about their own learning, about their own growth. A 180 classroom, by design, creates an environment where kids have not only the freedom but also the responsibility to make decisions. And that, I am finding is equal parts fascinating and terrifying.
I went to school to learn to give directions. Heck, maybe I even became a teacher to give directions. Well, maybe not that exactly, but I imagine early on–though too long ago now to remember–I believed teaching was mostly about direction giving. That seemed the essence of my education. Teachers gave directions. I followed directions. And then, when I crossed the threshold to the other side of the room, I became the giver of directions. And I believe I was a damn good giver at that. And as the years progressed, I became a master, conducting a symphony of directing and following, an ebb and flow of melodious harmony. In short, by at least that notion, the teaching was great, but the learning was suspect. And as the years passed, I began to act on my suspicions, questioning if teaching was learning. My kids were consummate “compliers,” but I no longer felt certain that meant they were learners. So, I began a gradual shift towards focusing on learning, not teaching, and eventually I landed here.
And here is not easy. It’s scary. And though it is where I desire to be, I frequently find it a world unfamiliar, a realm without comfort. Simply, we find comfort in what we know. I am finding that my letting go has revealed there is much I don’t know. And daily I struggle. On my tougher days, I wonder if I’m on the right path, worrying about my decisions. On my toughest days, I want to abandon the journey altogether, returning to the comfort of familiar. But. There is another side. Always another side. And it keeps me where I am. On my better days, the kids run down the path ahead of me, embracing their freedom. On my best days, the kids find new routes, accepting their responsibility.
And so, once again, I find that when I get lost, all I have to do is look to the kids to get back on track, a track that soon will become the new familiar. I just have to be patient. I made a decision to make better decisions. I made a decision because I had the freedom to do so. I made a decision because I am willing to assume the responsibility of the risk. And ultimately, I made a decision to give my kids the opportunity to make their own.
Happy Thursday, all.