I Wasn’t Too Old to Change After All

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“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – Les Brown

I’ve always been a list person. I like orderly, pigeonholed thought processes. When I read information, it automatically appears in my brain as an outline – none of those messy, ideas-all-over-the-page graphic organizers.

For eighteen years my educational philosophy pretty much stayed the same. Oh, I would change up processes and bring in new visuals and tools, but what I basically believed education should look like in my classroom never changed.

When our district announced it was bringing in one-to-one tech devices for our students, I thought, “That’s fine for the younger teachers, but I’m only five years from retirement – things are fine. I’m a good teacher. No need to change at this point.”

My attitude changed after I attended a mandatory workshop for the new technology devices.

The workshop opened my eyes to how today’s students receive and use information, and I plainly saw it wasn’t how I was teaching. I saw a way to not only re-invigorate my curriculum, but also my attitude towards my career, so I jumped in with  “what-the-heck-might-as-well” intention.

The year of change in my classroom also brought a year of change to the non-classroom areas of my life.

As I opened myself up to embrace the perceived chaos that would follow the change in my lesson plans, I was more open to change in other areas of my life. This openness created a change in what I believed about my life and myself . . .

Accepting there wouldn’t always be order in my classroom allowed me to release the need for total control in my life.

I realized my house didn’t need to be perfect before inviting friends over, and I could accept friends’ spur-of-the-moment invitations without concern for the interruption to my schedule. I didn’t need a menu plan for every meal when the kids came home unexpectedly – we could run to the store for whatever we wanted at the time. It was OK to let the grandkids scatter every toy from the toy room throughout the house; there was time to put everything away when they were ready to leave. I was now free to enjoy the moments of my life, rather than focus on the routines of my life.

Experiencing the joy of learning new things gave me the self-confidence to do things I’d only half-dreamed of doing.

Although I’d been teaching writing and grammar for years, I took an online writing course to improve personal writing skills and started a freelance writing business. I began using technology in ways I’d never thought about: creating a website, working with social media, trying new apps for organization and scheduling. I learned I might not know everything I needed to accomplish a tech-based task, but I found I could figure out what I needed to know.

Realizing things would go wrong as I experimented with new technology freed me from the fear of failure.

As I read online help articles and asked students to help solve tech issues, I understood I didn’t have to have all the answers to be a good teacher. I no longer needed to be the perfect teacher – I just needed an open attitude and a humble desire to do my best. That knowledge freed me from the self-imposed perfectionism in my life. I could try new things without fear of failure. I could read things about brain development and growth mindset that I previously thought were too scholarly for me. I wasn’t locked into the perception of myself that I had created over the years – I could change and grow, although I’m now only four years from retirement.

I’ve heard it said, “Change is as good as a rest.”

I’m still a list person, and those messy, graphic organizers still put my brain on “tilt,” but I’ve discovered a little disorder can be a good thing. A year ago I was tired of teaching, tired of my always-the-same life, tired of being tired. The desire to change it up in my classroom created a life change that not only rested me, but gave me the enthusiasm I needed to live a joyous life of change and growth.