Wednesday, October 17, 2018

#D100bloggerPD #DitchThatTextbook Conclusion!

Welcome and thank you for joining in as we celebrate the end of the #D100bloggerPD Ditch That Textbook blog book study! If you’ve been following along, you know we’ve had 7 amazing blog posts leading up to today’s 8th and final post in this study of Matt Miller’s Ditch That Textbook. Colleen over at Literacy Loving Gals started us off back on October 2nd and we’ve had 6 other members of from Berwyn South District 100 blogging and sharing along the way. If you missed any of those amazing posts (from veteran and NEW #D100bloggerPD crew members), they are linked in Colleen’s blog at the bottom of her post. Also, if you’re wondering what other books the crew has tackled, check out our previous studies on Reading in the WildHacking EducationMove Your BusHacking the Common CoreStart.Right.Now, and WhatTeachers Make, and Hacking Engagement.

If you’ve read any of my posts before, you know how much I love being a part of this crew. The motivation to keep the reading, learning, and reflecting going is thrilling- but as I enter my 11th year of teaching- I’m especially grateful for teachers who lift each other up to become more. My #teachertwin Colleen does this for me. We started #D100bloggerPD almost THREE YEARS ago and have been going strong ever since! In a discussion once, Collen shared with me the aphorism a rising tide lifts all boats and this has inspired me ever since. It’s amazing how much I think of her and this little piece of wisdom and apply it to my everyday life. Needless to say, I’m lucky to know and work with Colleen and have her as a guiding light on my educational journey. I’m also incredibly indebted to the teachers who have joined the #D100bloggerPD crew for this and previous studies. Without you amazing teachers/coaches/administrators- we wouldn’t even have a crew! Thank you for giving your invaluable time to learn and grow with us- especially in a profession where time literally flies by us! Last- thank you to you- the wonderful readers who keep us going on this journey! 

Now for the what you all came here for- the conclusion of the Ditch That Textbook blog study! My reflection begins with Chapter 35- Create a Mission Statement. From the moment I started this chapter, I felt like Matt Miller really understands me. He starts with a metaphor to frame our learning and I cannot be more in love with the idea that ‘teachers are pilots’ and how this applies to teaching.
Miller brings up the idea that, just like pilots need to know where they are going, teachers must know this as well. What better way to do this than with a mission statement? This can be done in the form of an actual statement, a simple phrase, or even by jumping on the #oneword trend that comes around every New Year. Personally, I like the #oneword approach to framing a new year of learning and living. I’ve participated in this selection of a word in the past, but I’m going to be totally honest here and admit that, some years, I can’t even pin down one word to go with- so I end up not picking one at all. No more of this! After reading this mission statement chapter, it has become increasingly clear that I can’t just ‘have a plan’ or ‘know where I’m going’ in my own mind. I need to be deliberate and thoughtful about my focus for the school year. That being said- stay tuned for a follow-up post where I will explore my mission statement for this current school year. I know we are almost one quarter through the year- but just like a pilot- I need to map out where I am going- and this is the best way to do it. As Matt Miller explains, “Selecting a precise word to describe the change you want to make in various aspects of your teaching life- or your life in general- can be simple and powerful” (Ditch That Textbook, page 203). I believe him and I know that it is never too late to make simple and powerful change for the better- especially in the field of education.

Much to my continued happiness, moving on to Chapter 36- Identify Major Themes kept my favorite pilot metaphor going. Miller points out that, now that we have our mission statement done, we need to start looking at what we teach- meaning our curriculum.  My favorite explanation of how curriculum changes is shown in the quote- how it’s rarely ever a straight line. This reminds me of that picture of ‘What people think success looks like VS what it actually looks like’ and how people think it’s just a straight line but it’s really a scribbly mess.
However, the important part about this is that, in the end, the line comes through to success. As a reading specialist in middle school, I sometimes feel like this is my life. Every day, I work with small groups of students to help them achieve their own personal reading potential. As you can imagine, this requires constant reflection and, if using the pilot metaphor, redirection and re-charting of my maps and final destination. This is what I absolutely love about what I get to do every day. Each moment of my classroom is new, difficult, and unknown because I never know where my students will take me. I feel like one of those clowns at the circus who needs to keep all the plates spinning at once with all the various imperfections in the plates. However, this is my silver lining- my plates (students) don’t have imperfections- they are exactly and unapologetically who they are- and I’m the lucky one who gets to teach them. This is my major theme- use what is given to me (curriculum, data, information, and so much more) in order to chart a course to success for my students and myself. I’m proud of the creative and challenging work I do and I’m lucky to do it in a district that lets me chart my own course to success.

Enough with the mushy stuff and on to Chapter 37- Be Ready to Adjust. This short, but motivational chapter, is especially important for realizing that things happen. Life happens. Things change. Especially in education- so we, as teachers, need to be prepared for this. We must adapt in order to survive. My favorite quote from this chapter is shown in the picture and I love it because it’s honest.
This change of getting creative and ditching the old ways for the new isn’t going to be simple. It’s going to have complications and potential for disaster- but that’s the point. We hardly ever get guarantees in life- and certainly not in education- but that’s the exciting part. As teachers, we get to take learning into our hands and find interesting and motivating ways to hand it back out. If you ask me, I’m glad I don’t hand over that control to a textbook. I’m glad that I take risks for my students in order to give them the best education possible. I’m also really happy that I work in a place that lets me do this- better yet- that trusts me to do this.

Moving on to Chapter 38-Take Your Time which is a chapter that, while very motivational and wonderful, is really just my favorite because it provided my two absolute favorite quotes from the whole book. The first, as shown in the picture, is that teaching is messy. Maybe I was drawn to this quote because I am the parent of two very messy kids (ages 5 and 7) or maybe I was drawn to it because I wholeheartedly agree that teaching is hard. 
It’s not easy, clean, foolproof, or anything like that. Much like parenting, at least in my experience, teaching is a lot like providing the supplies for kids- students- to go forth and make their mess- or learning- in this case. Luckily, Miller allows teachers the room to make these mistakes. Actually, he condones them. More so- he encourages them. There’s something very healing about being granted the time and space to learn and grow. I mentioned before that I have a couple favorite quotes from this chapter- the other is, “Who knew teaching would be such a vicious roller coaster of emotion?” (Ditch That Textbook, page 213). I find this to be amazing. It doesn’t even need to be explained. Just stands on its own- like a badge of courage.

This brings us to the Conclusion of Ditch That Textbook. Miller reminds the reader of the DITCH acronym from the introduction of the book and gives us our final charge to go forth and make waves in the world of education.  
He sums it up better than I ever could by explaining, “Do the things that have been rattling around in your brain as you’ve been reading this book. Be brave and take the first step, even if you are unsure of the outcome...especially if you’re unsure of it!” (Ditch That Textbook, page 219). There you have it. We have our mission, we have our goals, we have our plans. Only thing left to do is take flight.

Thank you, once again, for following along with not only this post, but the entire Ditch That Textbook study from the #D100bloggerPD crew. We appreciate you learning and growing along with us and invite you to follow the hashtag for any and all future studies!