This is the latest in a series of blogs by partners of the Fluency work.
By Melanie Riddle
How many times have you been told to work smarter, not harder? What is wrong with hard work? What is hard work? As educators we praise and admire the amount of thought, time, and effort our students pour into their work. We guide and inspire them to struggle in their learning so they can feel the pride and joy of their creations and fresh knowledge.
When do teachers have time to struggle in their learning? Who guides and inspires us in our learning? I have never heard a colleague say they have extra time on their hands in our profession. There are days we can’t even spare a minute or two to just stop and be. Teachers are human doings and we need to transition back into human beings. This will benefit all stakeholders, but it will be a struggle to achieve this state of mind in our profession.
The Fluency Project gives us the time we need to struggle. We can pour thought, time, and effort into ourselves as educators while carving our professional identity. Reflecting on who we are, where we are going, and who we want to be is exhausting, but I promise you that when we leave our cohort meetings, it is an exhaustion that replenishes us with the motivation to continue the work we are doing in our schools and communities.
Identifying what our students need is a struggle. It is imperative that we humble ourselves enough to genuinely investigate what is working and not working in our classrooms. Luckily we have a strong network of teachers in the cohort to lean on because we feel safe and have time to stop and think about the changes that are happening in education at a rapid pace. We spend time slowing down so we can struggle to improve our craft.
After all of the hard work identifying the needs of our students, we leap into meeting these needs, so they are empowered to learn and create. Now, it is time to struggle with learning new technology and research-based practices to take back to our classrooms. Where do we struggle with all of this? The Fluency Project! It gives us the time, encouragement, and tools we need to take our classroom design to the next level.
What comes from all our struggles and hard work to learn, create, and design? Extraordinary classrooms where our students will thrive through hard work and triumph.
Melanie Riddle graduated from West Liberty University in 1999 with a major in elementary education. Melanie began a career as a teacher at St. Francis Xavier school in a fourth grade multi-subject classroom. She has recently been a part of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project, National Board for Certified Teachers cohort, and a fellow with Empatico. Melanie currently is a member of Cohort 3 of The Data and Technology Fluency Project with West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab (situated in Carnegie Mellon University). Melanie’s special interests include spending time with family, reading anything she can get her hands on, and knitting.