They say when one door closes, another one opens.
It certainly is a hopeful adage. One can only walk through the door, to believe that this is true. But is it always the best choice?
In 1996, after 15 years of teaching in the elementary school, a door opened for me to teach Science in the 7th grade in my district. It meant packing a classroom, moving to another building with a whole new staff. It meant administrators who worked with young teens and used a totally different discipline system that I was used to. I looked at this door, as it opened for me, with hesitancy. How do you leave a comfort zone, your work family, behind?
I decided to find out.
All through the summer, I worked at making my brand on that new classroom. I wanted interactive and exciting science. I wanted an inviting learning place, where students might want to stop by to check on-going projects and shoot the science breeze. I put the words to the song title: I believe I can fly…, on the wall, wanting my students to really think about those R. Kelly lyrics. I moved the rows of chairs to arena-like seating. I put lab chairs and lab coats in stations alongside safety goggles.
In my excitement to make this room my own, I didn’t take notice to what the other teachers were talking about. You see, I was taking the place of a much loved teacher. He had retired after many successful years of teaching. He was an idol to many.
When I was told for about the 5th time that I had big shoes to fill, I started to get a little miffed. I wasn’t filling anything. I was doing what I felt to be best for students. I put myself in the place of these kids who were getting up at 6:00am to catch a bus to start their first prep at the 7:30 am bell. I decided to think way outside the box and incorporate ideas I was learning at conferences I had been attending since being named the Chair of the Science Department. I was moving science into the present day.
Suffice it to say, I learned a lot about classroom management that year. I learned that 55 minutes was a very short time to fit in a comprehensive lesson. I learned that Middle School teachers are a rare breed of supportive, sarcastic, logical, and crazy funny people. I found that when I started to feel like the kids weren’t succeeding, I could go to a few members of the staff, who were exponentially wise and supportive.
They were needed mentors.
It has long been my belief that I do not know everything….
(That was hard to say)
But I realized that year, that sometimes the open door offers you more than an opportunity. It is not always a free pass through. It takes work and diligence and yes, even losing face a little bit, to figure out the things that door offers you for growth.
As educators, what does the open door present for you? Does it fill you with trepidation? Does it make you wary when changes and expectations seem insurmountable?
I ask just one thing from you:
Please don’t give up.
Don’t give in to the so-so existence.
Hard work is satisfying once you come to other side.
As we turn toward another school year, will you believe you can fly?.
Thanks for listening.