It’s New Year’s…Yeah, But…

Happy New Year!! This day is often a time for retrospection and planning forward. People create lists of things they want to accomplish in the coming year. There is hope, there is renewal…but is there actual change? I know that I, for one, never do well with New Year’s Resolutions. There is always some obstacle, detour, roadblock as to why I can’t start or follow through with something. So I challenge myself and you, to look beyond New Year’s.

Why do we need our calendar to tell us when to do “new”? I argue that we don’t and we shouldn’t.

Greatest ShowmanThis quote is from a song that I just I can’t get it out of my head! (The Greatest Showman). “From now on, what’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight!” Imagine if we did this. Instead of thinking about doing something…we just do. Why wait? If we want to be innovators in education, we must be risk takers at the core. We look outside the box (literally and figuratively), we color outside the lines and we act now.

Don’t wait until the end of the year when it “doesn’t matter” if we “try new”. Don’t wait until the beginning of next year to “start over”. Start tonight! What is the worst that can happen…a fail? Well if we “look at failure as feedback “(@burgessdave ) then we just use it to grow.

If we aren’t growing, we are dying…we need to be alive for our students, they are counting on us.

As long as there is a need for change, there will always be obstacles. But what if we turn our “Yeah, but…” into “Why not?”. This little switch in wording causes a huge shift in mindset. Rather than being frozen, we can become mobilized by the possibilities. Let’s knock down some of these roadblocks…

“Yeah, but…why?”: For some people, they don’t see a need for change. This is how things are done, it’s worked in the past, this is how they learned.  Example: Two students go to the same school, five years apart. Two different teachers, one is brand new to the school. This is their science project…

Science Project

Cell Project – 2012

Science Project

Cell Project – 2017

One big thing that has changed at the school, in those five years, is that every student has a Chromebook that they take home. Now, we know that technology is not the magic bullet, but it can be a great catalyst for a change. A shift in how information is delivered, processed and shown. This project could have been a great opportunity for student choice and creativity. A way to show understanding of concepts. But…

When asked what they learned, both students replied: “We learned to look up a picture, copy it and label.” So, why do we need to change? Because our students should be thinking, learning, understanding and creating. Our students have changed, our world has changed, our future is changed.  Why not take every opportunity to change with and for our students?

“Yeah, but…there isn’t time.”: Last year, my colleague and I were sitting in a teacher’s classroom, as she was venting about all of the stacks of papers she needed to grade. We began offering alternate ideas to help decrease her workload. Her response: “Yeah, but…I don’t have time to change.”. We honestly didn’t have a response. I still don’t. If the obstacle is time, why not make the time to knock it down?

“Yeah, but…I’m afraid”:  It seems like fear comes up a lot. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of messiness…the list goes on and on. These fears can hold back a lot of good…a lot of great. Is it fair to let our own fear impact our students? Why not show our students that we are ok with being uncomfortable? Life is messy, and part of our job is to help students learn to navigate through life. If we, ourselves, are agile and adaptive, our students can be the same.

“Yeah, but…I don’t know how“: Everybody was at the “I don’t know how” stage at some point, so why not learn from each other? When I don’t know something (which is often), my answer is “I don’t know that, but I can find someone who does.” We are so fortunate in our current time, to have a plethora of resources, literally at our fingertips. Twitter, Voxer, Facebook…we have ways of connecting with others that were not available before. So why not work together to create a better future for our students? Education should be about sharing if we all have a shared goal-doing what’s best for kids. Let’s not hold on to our amazing ideas, but make them available to benefit all students. If we don’t know how, let’s seek to learn.

“Yeah, but…I have to teach the curriculum…”: Do we? Do we need to teach the curriculum or do we need to teach students…standards? “Covering” curriculum is very different than the other two. We teach students-above subjects, above concepts, above curriculum. Why not start there? We must first know them, to grow them. Once we know those that sit before us, we can create experiences to meet them where they are, using tools (such as curriculum) to teach the standards.

We teach students first, standards second- how we teach the second depends on the first.

calendarWhen should we make a change…try something new? On any given day, no matter what the calendar says. Why not start today? Our students-their futures and ours, are counting on it. 


Cori OrlandoCori is a mother of two amazing children and currently works as a TOSA in Simi Valley Unified School District. She is a co-moderator for both #SVTChat and #VCHSchat. Cori has presented various sessions for CUE Rock Star, CUE BOLD as well as within and outside of her district and county. She is also a frequent blogger on her site: http://leadinginlimbo.weebly.com/  Follow her on Twitter: @CoriOrlando1

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Cori Orlando

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