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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Only Getting Started

As educators, we are always “Only getting started” … It doesn’t matter the grade, subject, or time of year - from kinder to twelfth the same rule always applies...we are only getting started.

There is often a thought in education that everything happens on a yearly cycle… In fact, the story problem looks something like this: Child X needs to learn amount Y by the end of the year. If Child X is able to learn Y before the state test than Child X was successful. Then, the next year, Child W needs to learn the same amount Y by the end of the year...and so on…sound familiar?

There is a fallacy in this thinking. Why? Because it implies the job is done once the test is over...but here is what I know, what all good teachers and school leaders know...we are never done teaching, never done moving forward, never done learning - because we are always only getting started.

Now don’t get me wrong (amazing grammatical line) - I am not saying that we are always starting over, always discounting the progress made, always having to hit the reset button - always getting started doesn’t mean from the beginning...but it does mean the journey is one where we are always looking ahead…

This theory works beautifully when we know all students learn differently. Pick a school, any school. Pick a class, any class, and I promise you this...not every child is or needs the same. The challenge of education is that every child needs to learn, yet no two students are the same.

The magic of always getting started goes something like this….Eric is a student in Mr. Pelosi’s class. Eric has struggled with division as long as he can remember. 32 divided by 8 equals...who cares? Eric would always shout out comments in class like, “When are we ever going to need this? Why does this even matter?” But like all great teachers do, Mr. Pelosi pressed on, never gave up...and then one day, something clicked, something happened, and Eric could divide.

What was Mr. Pelosi’s response? Was it...Way to go, you did it, you are all done? - Nope, it was simply this…”I knew you could, now get ready, because we are only getting started.”

For many, this is a mindset shift - after all, the idea of only getting started could be viewed negatively… One could read into a statement like that and assume I am discounting all the progress made, all the hard work from the past, all the effort put in...that of course couldn’t be further from the truth.

The journey of learning takes place on a long road, full of rocky moments, exciting stories and steep hills. Rarely is it perfect, rarely is it easy...but it is always worth it...and no matter how far you go or how much you learn, remember this...you are only getting started.

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