Monday, September 6, 2010


"Turn and face the strange changes...Time may change me, but I can't trace time." by David Bowie

When I, younger...I used to spend hours listening to David Bowie.  This song in particular, Changes, I felt was written just for me.  And as I go through life, the lyrics come back to haunt me every once in awhile.  Now is one of those times.

This year I am facing some big changes...personally and professionally.  And I am trying hard to face the strange changes with dignity and calm.  Not so easy all the time.  

Change #1:
South Paris Collaborative is no more.  Christine and I are no longer working as partners.  I have a new partner, Lauryn Tiedemann, and a new name, The Denton Dynamos.  I think bringing new eyes to my program will be a positive change, allowing me to try new things with the students.  But I am approaching this change with some trepidation.  Will Lauryn be up to the task of working with me and all my demanding ways?  I do admit I have very high expectations of both my students and those I work with.  So far, our meetings have been positive. Tomorrow I find out how things go with children in the classroom.

Change #2:
Ali is heading into tenth grade. Time to think about driver's licenses, more freedom, college.  All while dealing with 15 year old emotions.  One thing that isn't changing...our time waiting for high school to end.  Each year I hope this will be the year.  The one where Ali finds that one teacher who will motivate, excite, and understand her.  The one year that will get her reinterested in school and learning.  Will Richardson recently wrote a blog about parents that actually got him called out in ISTE's Learning and Leading magazine.  In the blog he asked, "why aren’t parents more angry about the education their kids are getting?"  A fair question and one I ask myself often.  But, by this time in her education, I have given up fighting with my school district and her teachers.  Instead, I tell her that things will be better when she is in college.  And I supplement her education at home the best I can.  Although at her age, this is getting harder and harder, since I am no longer smart enough to teach her anything (at least that's what she hints to me frequently).  So, once again, I hope this year brings the changes we both are looking for.

Change #3:
My dear husband has embarked on another Master's degree program.  He began the Wilkes/Discovery Masters program online.  First I should tell you a bit about my husband.  Frank was hired in his district as a computer teacher.  He enthusiastically introduced websites and projects to his colleagues and worked with the students in his elementary school.  Two years into his career, his district cut their budget by replacing all the computer teachers with aides.  He was placed into the classroom as a fourth grade teacher.  While disappointed by this change, he was excited to bring his technology knowledge to his classroom.  He set up a Ning for his class, started a blog for his students, and sent out letters inviting all his parents into his projects.  The administration immediately told him to shut it all down.  It wasn't safe. He shut down the computers and has been teaching without technology for all these years.  So it is exciting that he is trying again. At this time, he has just begun his degree in Media Technology, starting with his first two classes, one on PBL and one on the brain.  It is so much fun talking with him about issues I've been dealing with for years.  He is reading Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind and Krauss/Boss's Reinventing Project Based Learning.  Both of these books have contributed to my classroom.  It's wonderful to see him excited about teaching.  This is a change I look forward to.

Change #4:
Conversations is coming back.  Okay, so this isn't really a change but Sheila Adams, Maria Knee, and I have all been through some changes this summer and I am sure we will bring our new perspectives on education into our Conversations.  For those of you who don't know what I am talking about, we run a show each Sunday morning on  This show is about educational conversations.  We choose a different topic each week and discuss, disagree, laugh about, cry about, and dissect it.  You should come join us.  See the changes in our show this year.

Change #5:
Personal changes: Frank got a new car, we put pavers down on our driveway, patio, and pool area, and I got braces.  While these are all good changes, they all cost quite a bit of money.  So, for the first time in a long time, we are in debt.  I think I will have the pavers paid off by Christmas and the braces paid off by April.  But it will mean tightening our belts a bit. Not something I am happy about.  So I spend a lot of time in my beautiful new yard and remind myself it was all worth it.

Can I face the changes?  I'm certainly going to give it all a try.  What changes are you going through this year?

Image: 'David Bowie - ChangesOneBowie

Image: 'X is for...340/365
Image: 'Waiting for Time to Pass
Image: 'Custom Graduation Bot

Image: 'Piggy savings bank


Ms. D said...

Change! In education there is change every year with new students,(we expect that) but some years the number of changes can be overwhelming. Sounds like you are having one of those years! Best of luck with all your changes and may they all be positive ones for you.

Chrissy H said...

WOW! When you make changes, you REALLY make changes don't you. All I can say, Lisa, is, follow your heart and always be true to yourself. You can't ask anything more of yourself. You have some pretty exciting changes ahead don't you!
All the very best, for ALL of them!

Lee Kolbert said...

I have every confidence in you and your abilities that this year will be even better than any before. Sometimes when we get lulled into a comfort zone, we need a watershed experience to shake us up and realize that we are stronger than even we realized. The students then come out the winners! Focus on one thing at a time and you'll not get overwhelmed (and call me if you want to talk). Love ya!!

Sue VanHattum said...

That's a fun song! I'm not even a Bowie fan, and it just started playing in my head as I began reading this post.

I was very sad to read about your daughter and school. Could she homeschool? Could she explore the topics she's interested in without school?

If you're comfortable with her being on her own sometimes, it could be a wonderful way to walk away from what sounds like an oppressive situation.

If you have any interest in discussing this, email me: suevanhattum on hotmail.

Brian Crosby said...

I have another book your husband could read ... well not that it is officially published yet. : ) Let me know if you want me to send the one copy I have ... no illustrations though. : (

Otherwise I am experiencing changes too. What can I do and not do this year? - new principal, new super, from last year, but now he's going to implement his plan. I just set up Google Apps, will I actually get to use it with my students? We checked out your new class blog last week ... looks good! Have a great year!!!

Jane Krauss said...

Lisa I'm inspired by your grace and positive attitude in the face of all these ch ch ch changes!
Your comments about your daughter really resonated with me. My son John is now a junior in college and he and I would agree that for some (him!) high school is like circling the airport in a holding pattern that lasts a long, long time!
John did well enough in HS but we knew he was barely engaged. Luckily for him, he had Ultimate Frisbee, jazz band and great friends to keep him going.
Finally touching down in college was life-changing for John. He is happy (overworked) biochemistry major at the University of Oregon. He's working in a research lab this summer and loves being steeped in science.
Your Ali will get there! Lots of good advice from the commentators here, all I can add is "this too shall pass!"

Theresa Murray said...

Great post Lisa! Such a positive outlook on change (and there are some big ones there). I am sure with your outlook, all will be great.

I share your frustration with a 10th grader. Have one who is super bright but so ADHD he can't see beyond the next thought to enter his brain. Ninth grade was horrific and we are hoping this year will be better. He hates busywork and that was what much of it was last year.

Stay positive and focused. You will be rewarded.