Friday, March 21, 2008

Work in Progress

I have not been making blog entries as frequently as I have in the past because I have been re-examining how I approach my life and my job. Once again, it seems as though I have been doing everything all wrong. It is human to make mistakes, but dwelling on the mistakes does not help you to move forward in a more productive direction. There have been a few blog entries (kwhobbes, 123elearning, Coolcatteacher, GenYes ) that I have read that have helped me to discover my errors. I have also been reading actual books (no way!) which have also helped me to shed light on changes that I have to make. Here is a quick list of how I am doing things differently;

Taking the "I" out of the equation.
I am not important. I mean this not in a self deprecating way, but in a philosophical way. Whenever I throw "I" into the mix of my thoughts and actions in performing my job, it becomes very personal. How could it not be personal? "I" am in there. So I have begun to think of things as happening rather than happening to me. I am apart of the environment, but not the target. It has really helped to put some emotional distance between my job and who I am. You might think this would have my job suffering as a result, but the opposite is true because I am not upset by every little thing. I no longer dwell on the negatives and can focus on the job at hand.
If life is a battle, you are going to lose.
I am no longer going to approach my job as if it is combat. It is not. This is not a way to approach other people. Being aggressive and confrontational is not helpful because you get what you give. I am not going to fight for what I think is right. I will not be unreasonable. If you fight, or argue, or try to force someone to do something, you only create greater resistance. I can not fight 90% of my school in hand to hand combat and win, and I can not live in permanent conflict over every anti-technology statement or act that I find out about either.
I don't want to be a winner or loser, and I don't want someone else to feel the need to take on those labels for themselves. It is not a productive mentality, and only causes future conflict.
Live in the now.
It is important to wring every last drop of goodness from this moment. There really is only now. There was the past now, that is now no longer, and the now that is to be, the future now. Time is merely man's perception of nowness. There is no time, only now. In order to be a happy person and successful in anything, now must be the focus. How can I make things better? Be completely engaged in this instant. Find satisfaction where you are, or happiness will always elude you.
Continuing to examine the problem.
Far from letting myself off the hook, I have to keep looking at what I am doing. How I react to the world and why do I react that way. It is important to understand that I determine what I do and how I feel. I am now looking at myself as the biggest problem that I must solve.

Do not think that this is easy. I have to fight the urges to fall back in my own ways of reacting to the world. Some days are harder than others. The important thing is that I am making progress. I can tell that I am making progress because of little things;
-The other day, my wife told me that she noticed that I have been different lately. Happier, nicer and more pleasant to be around. I had to resist the urge to feel badly because I immediately resented my previous unpleasant behavior. I just need to be happy that I am doing better. The past is gone and I can't change what I did before.
-Last week I was devastated to find that lab lessons were basically being wiped out for half of my classes in order to prepare for SOL tests which are 2 months away. Then my coordinator suggested that perhaps this was a way for me to do something different and focus my attention on classroom instruction which has been unavailable to me until now. Every obstacle has an opportunity in there somewhere, you just have to find it. When I heard her suggestion, I immediately said, "Yes!" In my old way of thinking, I would have brooded over this set back for a very long time. While this is still not my favorite subject, I don't take it personally and I am trying to find the good in this new arrangement.

I have no idea how this "new" thing will turn out. Will I revert back to the way I was? I hope not. Will I be able to improve the instructional technology program at my school? I don't know, but this is my ultimate goal. I love my job and I think that teaching others to use technology tools is important. I am no longer worried about things and will not complain. I will be keeping the motto that I borrowed from IBM, "Stop talking. Start doing."

Why did I write all of this down? Because the writing makes it real for me. It is a form of commitment. And sharing. Maybe there is someone else who has had similar feelings and is looking for a change. Isn't this the benefit of Web 2.0 tools?


Janene said...

I think this approach will make your life easier and happier. We can't win every battle and every day doesn't have to be a battle. I have a high need for control (surprised?) so it is a continual internal conversation I have. And the fact that I have continual internal conversations probably isn't a surprise either, is it?

sylvia martinez said...

Thanks for sharing your Al-in-progress thoughts. I think your "trickle down" technology musings are right on. And if the teachers are the roadblock, can you work around them directly with students?

One book suggestion - Herb Kohl's new book called Painting Chinese. It's the reflections of an education expert on what he learned when he decided to take up Chinese painting and was put in a class of 8 year olds. Very interesting to follow him as he thinks out loud about how people learn.

Reflection is good. Your choices are not errors or mistakes, just twists and turns that make up life's journey.