Inspiring Educators: Guest post by Laurie Provenzano

Laurie Provenzano and I were grade 3 teaching partners once upon a time in the Toronto District School Board.  We were both newbies at it, and we learned and grew together, both as teachers and as friends.  Time and distance have passed since then, but she’s always been and will remain a valued colleague and friend who has inspired me with her absolute and unwavering devotion and commitment to students and education.  Please encourage Laurie into the blogosphere with your comments.

~Erin

I’ve recently been sent blogging updates from two colleagues that I have reunited with. Both of these colleagues are people who I met during my first couple of years of teaching. One I was honoured enough to be a teaching partner with, the other, followed me into a very difficult but rewarding teaching position. We have all since moved on in our teaching careers and yet, still have that common connection of teaching to link us.

Bogging~ it seems like such a simple word, and yet, it comes with many issues attached to it. Who do I blog to? Do I REALLY have anything worthwhile to add to the professional conversation? Do people really want to hear/read what I have to say? What is my why? In trying to answer these questions for myself over the past few days, I have come up with one simple conclusion: I have no easy answers. Simply put, I am not recreating the wheel in my classroom. Instead, I am trying to meet the needs of each of my students in unique ways and getting overloaded with the amount of work that encompasses. I am a mom with two young children (2 and 4), and they take up much of the time that would otherwise be spent planning creating and envisioning new and brilliant topics for discussion.

I am a teacher who gets overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be covered in a year, and moreover, gets frustrated when new incentives and ideas come to the foreground when I am just getting my head around the one that became obsolete yesterday. In a recent meeting, my staff and I were told to get use to this world of change because the world of teaching is now ever weaving into new and different ideals that will not ever be stagnant again. This is fabulous-except I have my professional feet in two different camps! I have one foot stuck in what MUST be covered by the end of June, while the other is tiptoeing through the murky waters of 21st century learning, big ideas, backward design, higher order thinking and culminating tasks. The idea that we don’t have to teach ALL of the expectations, but that they ALL need to be covered while being creative in our approach, stepping away from teacher directed classrooms, into more student directed learning environments continues to astound and mystify me.

I was recently compared to Russell from survivor. And although at first I was a bit offended by the comparison, having thought about it, I actually can see some general similarities. Russell is a fierce competitor. He takes the game of Survivor seriously. He loves it. Eats it. Breathes it. Sleeps it. And when the game of Survivor finally taught him an important lesson ~ that sometimes you have to change your strategy ~ it broke him. The game he loves beat him. I take this profession very seriously. I love teaching. I take courses and savour them. I talk teacher, walk teacher, I even dream teacher. And sometimes, teaching breaks me. Unlike Russell however, I pick myself up and dust myself off, and take stock of what I know. I then begin to reshape my ideal and thoughts to begin again.

And so, I take a deep breath (ahhhh), and begin to tell you. I am putting out there for the world to see, that I am a teacher who cares. I care about my students. I care about their lives. I care about their after school activities, their families, and their struggles. I also want them to know that I am not perfect. That they may have bad days, and so do I.

I want them to know that somebody out there believes in them. I want them to know that we will muddle through this crazy world of education together, and somehow find ourselves at the end of June, together. I want them to know, that everyday they come to school, I am there because I want to be. I need them to know that they are my reason for blogging for the first time ever. They are the reason for me stepping out into the world of technology. I want them to understand that just as they are learning, so am I.

This world of education is not only a one way street. Not only are our young people students, but I am also one. And perhaps, in it’s most simple and elementary form that is my why. I’m not done yet. My learning has only begun. I am like the goose paper (good on one side) that needs to be flipped and used again. And so, perhaps it doesn’t matter if I have anything important to say to you. Maybe my insights are only ramblings to others. Perhaps to some, I may seem like a lazy teacher who doesn’t spend enough time at school ‘working’. But maybe, just maybe, the crazy whirlwind of thoughts that are continually spinning in my head actually help me to grow as a teacher, as a professional and as a colleague ~and if that is the case, hold on tight ~I’m not finished yet!

3 thoughts on “Inspiring Educators: Guest post by Laurie Provenzano

  1. I think it is a fallacy to assume that putting in long hours equates to doing a good job. I prefer my students to spend more time thinking and less time doing, which I tend to model myself. Having a lot of papers to grade is (to me) a warning sign, unless they teach writing 🙂

    If we want our students to think, we will need to spend a lot more time thinking about how to get them there.

  2. While I planned to never say it for fear of pushing you in a direction you might not be ready for….YOU’RE READY!!!

    I cried and then laughed and then cried some more and am deeply touched by you’ve written and the memories you’ve stirred within me (some of which I’ve actively tried to forget!)

    I’m so glad I included you in my foray into a world in which I am only beginning to find my feet (or is it my wings?) and that our conversations have given you pause for reflection (you and me both sister….I NEVER thought I’d call you that!). I value your commitment to your students and to yourself in being willing and ready to continue growing and learning and hope that you’ll join us full-time in this enriching (though somewhat overwhelming) world of networked learning 🙂

  3. Nice post Laurie! I love the idea of “muddling through this crazy world of education together”…it is so true and it is something that I embrace and struggle with at the same time. Learning is messy!

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