Macul Conference 2013 ended about 10 days ago. While I have been attending and/or working the conference for over 13 years, I will say without a doubt – that this conference ranks right at the top. There were enough quotables, sessions, events, and memories to take with me for a long time. But the most powerful, moving idea that the conference produced for me was to take permission to do what is right for kids and learning. No. Matter. What.
For the past several years, my job (and its duties) has been spun around, renamed, reallocated, redefined, and flipped on end. For a while, I was a walking contradiction. Asked to just be a “teacher,” and then undercut when teaching. Asked to carryout specific tasks, and then not supported when doing so. And something got lost. I became so “obedient” to the system – I lost the perspective of what was RIGHT. My colleagues looked at me differently – I was looking at me differently.
So much change brought forth an uncertainty. To whom do I listen? To whom do I give my time? Do I leave the classroom? Do I stay? Do I try and make a leap somewhere? And I became unhappy.
I had fallen so far away from what I love to do that I was actually convincing myself that maybe I should leave. Colleagues have said, “You are too talented to teach.” What does that mean????? “Too talented to teach.” I was approaching my graduates with fervor, earnestness, and a desire to know what I did that made those past classes so great. Why they miss yearbook class… Why we still stay in touch… What did I do right, and why was it so fun? The graduates gave their feedback. But it was Macul ’13 that brought it home.
In the end, Macul 2013 reminded me that a good teacher has nothing to fear. We are a strong collaborative group of highly talented individuals trying to grow the next generation. To instill confidence and passion into our students. To be that change we want to see in the world.
To say the past few years have been difficult would be an understatement. But this past week or so was such a gift. To watch colleagues in action. To remind oneself of what really makes teachers, including myself, happy. I look forward going forth in confidence knowing that I may shake the system; I may be called on the carpet to justify my actions; I will be going against a culture of routine homework assignments, grades, and procedural practices to do what’s right for kids. I wholly and fully welcome that conversation. It is overdue. Way overdue.
Back to the classroom with cleaner goggles on. Clarity. Perspective. Rejuvenation. Affirmation. And a deep desire to connect with my kids so the last few weeks of school, I can push the envelope and challenge them to grow even more.
I will leave this post with a special thank you to the CUE Macul Roadtrip team. I am indebted to them for their collegiality and pushing teachers everywhere to be the best for kids. Thank you.