Teacher as Model and Mentor: Ever Changing

Continuing the three-part series on “Teacher as Model and Mentor: Ever Teaching, Ever Learning, Ever Changing,” 4C’s Janine Rigg gives us “Ever Changing”:

Change can be scary, and it can be intimidating. Change may require diving head-first into the abyss of the unknown, trying to get back to the surface as quickly as possible. But change can also be an adventure, and it can be beneficial to you as the teacher and your present and future students. Change may instead require jumping cannon ball-style into a flood of new approaches and seeing just how many waves we make. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that “the only constant is change.”

The easiest way to change is voluntarily. Maybe you realized that the activity you thought the children were going to love was actually a disaster. Maybe you’re getting the urge to try something new. Maybe you see a new idea or framework working beautifully for your coworkers and you want to try it in your classroom. It doesn’t have to be a big change to make a big difference. It could be as simple as switching center time to after nap rather than trying to go directly into teacher-led instruction with groggy children. Make sure that the changes you make will work for your classroom dynamic and will make it better.

In the article How Teachers Change, Virginia Richardson from the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) quotes research from Smylie & Conyers (1991) which states that “over the course of this century, our concept of teaching has shifted from an industrial model[,] teachers replicating a specific set of instructional tasks[,] to a ‘complex, dynamic, interactive intellectual activity.’” She then contends that “we therefore need teachers who approach their work with a change orientation: an orientation that suggests that constant reflection, evaluation, and experimentation are integral elements of the teaching role.” If our teaching methods were the same as a century ago, with rote instruction and recitation, then tried-and-true routines could suffice. With the Ever Changing world that is early childhood, however, we will be left behind if we don’t change with it and our students will be left behind as well. There should be a focus on what will be most beneficial for the children, and isn’t that really the bottom line?

Each of the three parts to the theme “Ever Teaching, Ever Learning, Ever Changing” is crucial. If teachers are teaching and learning but not putting what they learn into practice, they stagnate. If teachers are teaching and changing, but have no sound educational basis for the changes they make, they are doing a disservice to the children. It is a continuum as well as a cycle. Evaluation of your teaching, learning how to strengthen your practices and changing based upon what has been learned should then be reflected upon. I marvel at how much I have changed as a professional since I started in the field, and a good portion of it was unconsciously! Even within the last year, I can identify areas in which I have improved my methods. I, and the people I train and the staff I work with, reap the benefits of my dedication to this practice.

I would love to hear success stories of how you have been “Ever Changing!” Please share them in the comments.