Go BIG! Take a leap! Shoot for the moon! Jump in with both feet!
We hear this type of advice all the time, and quite frankly, I’m often somebody who gives it. It can be a motivational and inspirational message for some (hopefully!), and it may be just what they need to hear to make major breakthroughs in their life and career.
For others, it is perhaps overwhelming.
It’s easy to look at all the amazing and innovative developments in education that have taken place over the last few years and to get a major case of “analysis paralysis.” Where do I start? What do I tackle first? How can I make all of these changes all at once? How can I possibly learn everything I need to know to do this? The year has already started, how can I change course mid-stream? What if students flounder under all this new freedom and autonomy? Am I qualified to lead my students in this new direction?
The struggle is real! I get it…I really do. We see rockstar teachers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and presenting at conferences who have created UNBELIEVABLY empowering classes for their students and it is easy to feel like what we are doing is less than adequate. It’s hard to live up to the Pinterest boards and still keep some sort of balance and sanity. How did they get this awesome????
The answer may surprise you because they often fail to share the most critical part of the journey. The struggle. These classrooms are the product of what is usually a continuous search for new and better. A mindset of being willing to make small shifts and adjustments in order to test out and experiment with innovative new practices. You are just looking at the end result and feeling overwhelmed but not seeing that each step along the way, when broken down, is very approachable. All of this stuff is doable!
Makeover shows are wildly popular because they show the before and after…PLUS the journey to transformation. It is in that journey where the real fun and adventure lie…that’s the part that pulls us in. If only a teacher who has traveled this path of classroom and pedagogical transformation would share their whole story and break it down and just be fully transparent.
It has happened!
Joy Kirr is an unbelievably amazing 7th grade teacher from Illinois who has been prolifically sharing her ideas and resources for YEARS! Many people who have wanted to jump into the Genius Hour world, for example, have successfully done so using her curated resources. She has truly empowered her students and has designed a learning environment that is not only highly successful…it is flat-out inspirational to behold.
She is that rockstar teacher we were talking about earlier…except that wasn’t always the case. It was a process of making many very small and gradual shifts, all totally doable, over a period of time. We have convinced Joy to swing open the doors of her classroom…the doors of her career…and openly share these shifts and how they have changed her as an educator and, more importantly, changed the class experience for her kids. We have just released her long-awaited book project, Shift This: How to Implement Gradual Changes for MASSIVE Impact In Your Classroom. This is powerful stuff! Classroom set-up and environment, grading practices, homework, class work, student-directed learning, Genius Hour…it ‘s all here. You will be fascinated by her journey and also inspired to take your own.
When educators who are connected to Joy on social media found out this project was happening, the response was almost universal. “Yes! I want that…she has helped me many times and deserves more recognition for how long she has selflessly served the community.” I hope you will support this new project, follow Joy if you aren’t already, and tap into the #ShiftThis hashtag on Twitter to continue the discussion.