Sunday, January 23, 2011

Three Small Things

So. Angela Maiers is my new best friend. We chat about the lives we've touched through our fantastic teaching strategies, discuss how we're going to change the world one "AHA!" at a time, and giggle girlishly in the Christian Louboutin shoe closet complete with personal masseuse tucked away in her basement. Hey... As long as I'm dreaming, I'm going to make it a good one!

In all honesty, Angela probably doesn't know me from Eve. She doesn't know that the three days she just spent in Cherokee, Iowa (Population: 4,663 - less than 1/3 of her Twitter following!) completely changed my life. In three short days, she gently guided me to the realization that I haven't been teaching for the past two years... I've been floating along on a sea of inadequacy. My words, not hers. My imaginary best friend is far too kind for that!

I've already waxed poetic about my incredible insights in my first blog post. The next question is "So what, Kelly? You've been redeemed! Your blinders have been lifted! Your fog-encased brain has been cleared! Now what the heck are you going to do about it?" This is where I stop and quietly, with dignity, smash my head against a brick wall. I'd love to run to my classroom tomorrow, throw all of my desks out in exchange for Lovesacs, tell my kids emphatically that they are all GENIUSES and that I love every single thought that crosses their mind, burn every darned worksheet I can find, and completely re-start our year as global, digital citizens who contribute meaningful work to our world. (Goal #2: Quit writing absurdly long run-on sentences.)

Problem? I've got less than 3 weeks with my students before I take my 8 week maternity leave. 

My frustration right now knows no bounds. How can I possibly expect a sub with 30 years of classroom experience to understand that I've thrown out all of my worksheets? Or that I keep my laptop hooked up to my projector throughout the day to model my thought process while we conduct research together? How can I expect a woman who more than likely has never listened to a podcast or used a youtube video in the classroom to help my students broadcast themselves to the world when they're inspired by a great idea? How can I convince her that my classroom is filled to the brim with tiny little genius children rather than walking, talking, trouble-making behavior disorders waiting to happen? How can I stop writing sentences with absolutely no structure?! Ugg.

I think if Angela were with me right now in her ridiculously cute spiked stilettos, she'd tell me to concentrate on the little things first. I can't possibly change the entire atmosphere of my classroom in one day anyway, so what are three small things I'm going to do tomorrow? Three small things to start my journey towards better teaching.

1. Treat my students like geniuses. Because they are.

2. Listen (TRULY listen) to what my kiddos are telling me. Because they are incredibly insightful.

3. Admit to my students that I'm not perfect. Even though my husband frequently insists that I am... ;)

It doesn't sound like much, but journeys aren't meant to be finished in hours or even days. The really fun and life-changing journeys take years. Years of wrong turns and brick walls. Years of frustration and years of pure joy. Years of "AHA!" moments and for my best friend and I... years of great shoe sales in Paris! (Methinks this will be my go-to fantasy during those years of wrong turns and brick walls...) Stay tuned for updates this week and feel free to leave suggestions for me - I'm excited to see how changing these three small things are going to launch my incredible new expedition!


  1. Welcome to the world of blogging. I'm in awe! You are a beautiful writer! What a voice you have! And as Angela told us - the world DEMANDS that it be heard!

    I look forward to tuning into your journey!

    It was great to meet you and share in this incredible experience.


  2. Great post! You have shared some important insights about teaching and starting to change our classrooms. The fact is that we are all on a journey (in life and in teaching). All we can do is continually reflect on where we have been, and take small steps to where we want to go.

  3. Hi Kelly, wow, lovely post. Thanks for summarizing so well. I'm not surprised you are such a great writer; I could tell you were when you gave your mini profile on Friday. Keep up the good work! I already subscribed! Denise

  4. It's commendable to see not only see your teaching differently, but act on it. I applaud you.

  5. Thank you so much for all of your kind words! I keep telling my husband that I just want to BE Angela... LOL! What a fantastic learning experience with an amazingly inspirational woman! I can't wipe the smile off of my face right now... You all are giving me the motivation to make this work! Thank you again so much for your comments!

  6. Fabulous posts Kelly. I read both and enjoyed your writing style and your honesty. All the best for your blogging journey and for your new arrival.
    Yvonne Osborn, Melbourne, Australia

  7. Really enjoyed reading both your posts. You are sharing your AHA moments so beautifully. Good luck on your 'new' journey and I'm thinking fabulous flats are a great choice for this first part, for sure!

  8. Hi, Kelly--
    I found your blog on twitter (I follow Angela Maiers, too! :)) and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your struggles and goals so eloquently. I teach 8th grade, and I know how gut-wrenching it can be to teach reflectively and responsively. So... I admire your candor. Remember that baby steps are important; with each one you're giving your students an opportunity they wouldn't have "the old way." They'll bounce back when you come back. Thanks for sharing.