I Wasn’t Too Old to Change After All

too old to change

“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.

14 thoughts on “I Wasn’t Too Old to Change After All”

    1. The teaching profession is usually in a state of change, so I guess we should learn to accept and adapt to change. It’s still a difficult thing most times . . .

  1. Great read! As someone who works in tech, we are often the ones who force changes on people (most of them are necessary, I promise). One of the first things I noticed was that it isn’t the young people who adopt things quickly and the older people who don’t as the stereotype suggests. People who take your approach tend to deal better with it. You don’t have to know everything about a new thing to be comfortable with it. Those who are comfortable finding answers as they go and aren’t afraid of getting things wrong once and a while cope better with change and are in a better position to enjoy it!

  2. While young people do seem to adopt new tech more quickly/easily, I feel that a large percentage of girls in school loose interest in learning about science and technology by a certain age.
    Maybe if we had more teachers who could consistently show these kids the accessibility of science/tech skills and the possible applications, more girls would feel excited about the possibilities that new tech holds. I do think that it starts in having educators who are willing to learn and adapt.

  3. I see the same thing in school, but as teachers use tech to teach problem-solving/higher level thinking skills, more girls are “stepping up” to be the leaders in the activities. It’s giving them the chance to create and grow without preconceived beliefs about what they should be “good at.” (More often than not, it’s a girl who helps me out of a tech dilemma!)

  4. Great write up.
    Change can be scary but once we learned to embrace change, everything will be different. They said that change is difficult in the beginning, messy in the middle, but beautiful in the end.
    And I know learning is extremely important, this is why I keep reading, learning, and improving each day. This is how I ended up reading your article. Cheers. :)

    1. Thanks Shawn! Change is everything you describe – but so worth it in the end. I’ve discovered life is more interesting if learning and growth keep happening. Enjoy your journey!

  5. Sometimes change is forced upon us. Doing nothing to adapt to change is often the greater risk. People tend to overthink change and it becomes over-complicated in terms of perception rather than truth. Best to simplify things and get down to those 2 or 3 things driving the change, so people are able to adapt better because they know exactly what they are dealing with. Providing certainty about what is involved in the ‘change’ and managing expectations is important.

    1. What a great way to manage and adapt to change. If a person simplifies it, the process seems more manageable; that could create a greater sense of control and security. Thanks for the comment – I’m definitely going to remember it when faced with future changes.

  6. You are so right, Age is no barrier to change! Indeed as I grow older, I feel ‘freedom’ to make more radical changes in my life as responsibilities for children diminish and with the greater wisdom and knowledge I’ve gained ‘with age’..

    1. I’ve felt the same way – after the initial stages, I felt free, and it was more exciting than scary. An empty nest allows me to focus on me and my goals. It really is different at this age.

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