If not now, then when?

I am a believer in taking immediate action when it comes to matters or tasks that must inevitably get done. Oprah herself is a champion of “seizing the day”, often remarking that if anything is going to move forward in life, then SHE is the one who is responsible for that movement. In many professions, especially teaching, we are called to be flexible because of the ever-increasing and unpredictable tasks thrown our way. While being organized is important, I have come to realize, that a sense of urgency also goes a long way. I say this because at times, I have found myself overwhelmed with tasks, requests, and the after-work responsibilities that keep my mind running until I hit the pillow.

While certain tasks can wait, other tasks simply cannot- like calling that parent back, helping that colleague out, or implementing what you learned from a PD (professional development) workshop, in your classroom. Each of these examples supports the idea that in teaching, we all rely on each other…which is why we need to make sure that we make the effort to act immediately. 

If we expect our students to demonstrate their understanding of a concept after a lesson, why then should we hold off on implementing what we learn (from a workshop) until we find the time to do so? The next time you order a resource, piece of technology, or attend a professional development session, consider garnering the eagerness you had when you were initially motivated to learn about something new.  Here are a few additional considerations: 

  1. One thing at a time. Each month, I try my best to implement one new strategy or use one new tool in my classroom. Whether I learned something new online or while attending a P.D in-service, I think of ways that I can purposefully integrate this new strategy or tool. Consider sharing what you have learned with a colleague or teaching partner so that you can both work together on ideas for how integration of this new learning might look in your classrooms. 
  2. Open the box! If you’ve ordered a new tool, open the box and start exploring. If you are a teacher librarian or administrator that has ordered new technology for your school and your staff is asking you to begin using this technology, don’t deny them of this.  A staff member has come to you, eager to take advantage of this new tool for student learning. Don’t give them an opportunity to dismiss their motivated intentions for wanting to delve into something new. Instead, support them as they try, as it will encourage them and who knows? it may also inspire other staff to use that same tool too. 
  3. Share your learning with others. Yes – while it’s important for students to benefit from new ideas or tools that we have learned about, it is equally as important to share your learning with your colleagues. As teachers, we are part of a collective culture where we can all learn a thing or two from each other. Upon returning from a PD session or following a lesson that went well, consider sharing what you’ve learned with your staff. Who knows? More ideas on how to use this strategy or tool can arise from your discussion.
  4. Practice makes progress. Expect that whatever you implement won’t be perfect. Diving in is the first part and over time, as you continue to use this strategy or tool, you may discover new ways of making it proficient and pedagogically sound.

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