Student Achievement Opinion

Reflection on 2016’s #OneWord: ‘Metamorphosis’

By Starr Sackstein — December 19, 2016 2 min read
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For the last few years, I’ve been framing the new year with a word. One word that is supposed to shape my approach to the year and encourage the kind of meaning the word engenders.

In January, I chose the word metamorphosis, knowing that this year would be filled with a great transformation. It was time, afterall.

Like many educators or humans of a certain age, I made a decision to no longer allow my comfort to be a driving force in my life.

Needing to break free from the routine that had been established and enjoyed for nine years, I left a job and a school that had been my home for a long time. Leading up to this change, I went about my business in much the way that I have since I’ve become connected.

Silently I used to sit making changes for the world to see, but not for me to experience. Mine have been gradual like a metamorphosis. Slowly going through the stages of change, recognizing them and peeling the layers off myself.

My decision to leave WJPS and move to LIC HS was the final phase of this metamorphosis. Stepping outside of the cocoon to become what I would be next. Not just a teacher, but a teacher coach and hopefully begin to shift a culture to a more student-centered space.

Adjusting to my new space has also been a slow and slow is not a pace I’m used to going. Usually functioning at fast or faster, I’ve had to slow down and really take it all in.

I must just STOP!

Really stop. Pause. Disrupt the flow.

It’s so easy to focus on the many things that don’t seem to change in the day to day. Our students do it too and that’s why progress is sometimes hard to see. Small but vital change is happening all of the time and in its miniscule moments, it isn’t as noticeable as it as once time passes and a great distance has been traversed.

Recently I’ve been lucky enough to have people I respect hold up a mirror for me. Down on myself becuase it had felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything I had hoped I would. Perhaps the change I was so eager to make was beyond my reach (I am only one person after all).

But then I was reminded. Real change takes time and I’ve made a bigger dent that I can see. There are people who’s pedagogy I’ve helped develop and students are winning for it. They may not realize it yet, but they are.

Working with teachers is a lot different than working with students in that the reach is exponential. I love working with students... even when they don’t realize they want to work with me and it turns out the same is true of adult learners.

Rather than get discouraged or allow negative feelings to cloud the path, I focus on what I can contribute to and do my best to continue the change.

Setbacks happen and that’s okay, as long as I don’t become mired in them. Change did happen in 2016... an actual metamorphosis of my teaching career as I’ve moved into the hybrid role of teacher and coach and I have no doubt that 2017 will continue that growth.

I still haven’t picked my #oneword for next year because nothing seems to suit yet, but I’m on the look out for it and I hope you’ll share yours.

Thanks for reading :)

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.