Change. If you can count on anything in the field of education it is that things will constantly be changing. When I first began teaching 10 years ago one of the first lessons I learned from my mentor teacher was not to get too bent out of shape when our system implemented new programs. She explained that whatever the new program, manipulative, technology, doodad, or thingamabob that we were required to use in our classroom would be replaced in a few years. I was skeptical at the time, but she has been proven right time and again.
Now as wise as that advise is, believing it is one thing, and actually taking it is another. I have never liked change - in the classroom or anywhere else. One of Alyson's favorite stories to tell about me has to do with my inability to adapt to change. It happened back in college at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). We had been dating for several months and it was starting to get pretty serious. We both lived on campus so we had a standing lunch date each day. MTSU has two primary places to eat. We alternated our lunch location based on our class schedules, so we ate at McCallie Cafeteria on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and JUB dining on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The way Alyson tells it, she casually suggested that we switch it up and eat at the JUB on a Friday but I was having none of it. She claims that I did my best Dustin Hoffman impersonation (a la "Rain Man") complete with me repeatedly saying "We eat McCallie on Fridays. We eat McCallie on Fridays." If you haven't seen it or want a refresher click here for a short clip. Just replace "Four minutes 'til Wopner with "We eat McCallie on Fridays" and you'll know exactly what happened. It is funny to talk about it now but at the time I really couldn't comprehend why we would "change" when we already had a system that worked.
Since then I believe I have gotten better at adjusting to change, but I still don't like it. It is very tough for me to change how I do things in my classroom. Once I figure out what I like and what works I like to leave it that way. Why change if things are working okay? The problem with that is that just because it works well, doesn't mean it can't work better. So this year is going to be different. I owe it to my students to try new things and see if there is a better way to do things. My first step will be to implement a time for students to work in stations each day. I'm not ready to commit to stations all day every day, but I am willing to try 20 minutes per class. What is the worst that could happen? It might not work. If that happens I could just change it, right?