Thursday, December 20, 2012

We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together #EdChat

As the semester winds down, I have a chance to see students feverishly studying and working on worksheets, study guides and word finds to help prepare them for the coming final exams. I watch as student pair up and work together to fill out the sheets in the most efficient way possible. They frantically check their phone for answers that are buried too deep in their book to be discovered. I watch all of this and shake my head. 

You see, I used to be married to the handout/worksheet/word search. This all I ever knew in the world and I thought we were perfect for one another. Sometimes I would try and break things off, but it was so easy to just end up back together. It took me 7 years to realize that we were not good for one another. It was a terrible relationship that was negatively impacting the people around me. It was when I realized how badly our relationship was affecting the kids is when I decided it was time for a change. 

A few years ago, I decided a trial separation was necessary. I figured I would make a clean break for 10 weeks. I chronicled these 10 weeks without my partner in a series of blog posts. (Some of the links are broken or gone due to time.) I am not going to lie, it was a difficult 10 weeks. There were plenty of times I felt like taking the easy way out and running back to the warm embrace of my partner in educational crime, but stayed true to my word and went 10 weeks free. I see it now as one of the best decisions of my life.

My new BFF (Project Based Learning (PBL)) has been a perfect partner. We get along great, we push each other to be creative and the kids absolutely love them. My new relationship has given me a spark in my work and a thrill when I see the kids really work with PBL to grow and mature as learners. This new connection has allowed me to focus on the things that are most important in what I do and the kids now feel they have the freedom to express themselves in ways that were not possible in the previous marriage. While I'm not quite ready to commit fully to this new relationship, I am excited about the possibilities our future holds together. 

There are plenty of things I learned about myself during those ten weeks that made me a better teacher. Since I ended that disastrous relationship, I can see that my kids have improved. Their spirits are better and the engagement level is through the roof. Everyone is a little bit happier now that the marriage is finally over. For some, this marriage works well and they feel happy about it. Others are blissfully unaware of the negative impact their relationship has on others around them. For me, I can proudly say, "We are never ever ever getting back together!"