This was a post I made to a discussion board for one of my grad school classes:
I read Who Moved My Cheese a few years ago when I made the switch to middle school. I had spent 12 years in elementary and thought that was all I wanted. It took a moldy room and a difficult administrator to get me to embrace change and move on. I remember crying just like Hem, “It’s not fair!”
I had to think long and hard about change. I really did envision myself as an elementary school teacher my whole life.
As I left part of my life behind and started running through the maze I had to find words that supported what I needed to do. I too wrote on the walls. Some of the words I used were (forgive me if I don’t get the words quite right):
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” —FDR
“Perhaps it is you who have changed by standing still” —Inherit the Wind
“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving.”—Mame
“The most important thing you can give someone is a chance” — poster in my room (I added “and a piece of chocolate.”
“If you change one life it is as if you have changed the whole world.” —many sources
“Seek out change. It is the only way to learn something new about yourself.” —Me. This became my mantra.
I really think in most ways I am like all four: Sniff, Scurry, Haw and Hem. These days I am much more like Sniff and Scurry seeking out change and new opportunities. However, Haw and Hem are interesting metaphors. Hem is the low point. It can’t get any worse. Haw is moving away from that low point. In many ways, you can’t be Haw without being Hem for a little while. The important thing is to not Hem too long.
Four years later and I realized how wise, and yes, brave I was. I am not saying this out of pride. I am saying this to demonstrate how I empathize with the teachers I work with. This really is the first generation of teachers who are being asked to teach in ways that they have not been taught. It is tough for them to see that they need to change. I use video like “Shift Happens” and “Pay Attention” to get that point across. I also try to provide them with other types of “cheese” to taste, different ways to cover a subject in which the student-teacher dynamic is different from what they are used to. Our social and information landscape has changed. Teachers must be aware of this, embrace change and be supported as they take risks or they and our current system risk being relevant and effective.