I Took The Red Pill

Well into April of my first year as an administrator and its time to start planning for next year. One of the hardest things for me this year has been not being in the classroom, and I am hoping that as the planning continues to take on a bit more of a teaching load, specifically in Math. I have always loved teaching Math, and a recent full day session with Dan Meyer has made me miss the classroom even more.

The biggest reason I have wanted to get back in the classroom has been my PLN and my connections through Social Media. I only started connecting through Twitter and blogging in August, so I never had the chance to utilize all the great resources and strategies I have read about in the classroom. I am very excited to think about teaching a core course such as Math now that I am so lucky to be connected with so many great people. I thought I was a pretty good teacher before and did a pretty good job of getting my students excited about my lessons. I was able to do a decent job when my connections with other educators was limited to 2 or 3. Now I am connected with over one thousand educators and the potential for my lessons and my ability to reach my students will have grown immensely with all the ideas, resources and strategies I can draw from those connections. It is very exciting to consider.

So as I was thinking about this enormous paradigm shift in my teaching I was reminded of a conversation I had with George Couros about technology in the classroom. George is a big proponent of all that technology can provide for our buildings but is quick to remind us that it needs to be for the right reasons. When discussing the validity of technology in our buildings, George asked me a question – “What if the book was invented after the internet? Would we go back to books simply because they would be the NEW technology?” I am guessing we all agree that it would be silly to scrap the internet in favour of books. It’s about what is right for our kids.

So I know if I get back into the classroom it would be silly to scrap everything I have learned to go back to teaching using the old strategies and practices I used before. It would be silly to ignore everything I learned from Dan Meyer and simply deliver boring Math lessons that turn my students off of the material. It would be irresponsible to continue assessing my students’ progress in the ways I did before. It would be insane to isolate myself and not learn from all the amazing people in my PLN to ensure every lesson I deliver is the most interesting and effective lesson I can provide. Starting a PLN is kind of like taking the red pill on the Matrix, even if you wanted to go back, you can’t.

Everyday I connect with my PLN, I become a better educator. The last year has been spent involved in administration and not a lot actual classroom teaching, but my potential as a classroom educator improved in spite of that simply because of my connections. It’s silly if you don’t have a PLN. You are really missing out if you don’t try to draw on as many resources as you can to improve at your profession. I would argue you are not doing your job if you are not moving forward as the profession evolves.

I look forward to the next time I have a Math class, and I look forward to providing them with the education they deserve now that I am connected and more equipped to do so. I took the red pill, and there’s no going back.

7 thoughts on “I Took The Red Pill

  1. I started this journey in September through the Powerful Learning Practice program. Can you think of any other year where you’ve grown so much? This was incredibly well written. You are so right – once you take that pill, there’s no going back. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nice reflection, Jesse. I did a bit of the opposite- started a network and then went back to the classroom full time. I can’t imagine what I would do without the support of my network DAILY. 🙂

  3. Jesse, great post. Since I am a principal of a small school I teach every day. My experience with Social Media has had a profound impact on my teaching. I think that as administators it is vitally important that we walk the walk when we are asking teachers to make shifts in their thinking and learning. If we are not doing the same, what kind of leadership are we modelling?

  4. The new era of amdinistration is all about instructional leadership as opposed to management. Being in the classroom allows you to stay connected to current practices and also gives you the opportunity to “be the change” you’d liek to see happen in your school. For some administrators, carrying a teaching load is not feasible, but despite the vocal minority, you can stil be an instructional leader without an enrolling class.

    Instrucitonal leadership is as much a miondset that places the instructional agenda ahead of other issues around management. Bulddings have to be managed, but for me it was the instructional empowerment of others that I find most gratifying. Staying connected through our PLNs is a great way for leaders to stay current with where education is going and how others are already doing it.

    Great post Jesse!

  5. Jesse – I am with you. I was moved this past week to write a post about being a “teaching” principal myself. I don’t know if you say it but here it is anyway. http://bit.ly/hfRIJH It sums up my thinking about the topic.

    Well done!

  6. Jesse, great post! It is one I am able to relate to in many ways! When I first became principal I missed the classroom to no end. Now that I am back in the classroom, for one class, I am able to reconnect with the students and take a true leadership role in what I have presented to my staff.

    While my staff is coming along with the shift to social media, it has benefited me greatly! I have connected with many members of my PLN for various reasons. It truly has been an amazing experience!

    Good Luck with your planning for next year and make sure to take time for yourself!!

  7. Jesse,

    Keep openly reflecting an inspiring the way you are doing. I am hoping that your biggest realization this year is that you can be a leader from any position. That is something that is imperative for educators no matter where they are.

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