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Best Practices in Education, Standards Based Instruction,

Change is Scary

We are glad to welcome Katie Lufkin; here, she reflects on the challenge of change and how a different approach can yield surprisingly positive results.


For the first time in 12 years I did not map my curriculum, decorate my classroom, or rearrange the students’ desks. I did not attend in-services, grade level meetings, and curriculum committees. This “year” (which we in teacher land call it, even though it’s only Fall), I have started a new career. And, as the saying goes, change is scary.

Over the last 3-4 years my students learned that change is manageable; just as I hope everyone here learns change does not have to be scary when you face it head on, make mistakes, reflect on them, and then re-teach or totally alter your method of teaching in order to have that ultimate “ah-ha” moment!

When I look back on all the changes I’ve had to make in the last 12 years, personally and professionally, I often wonder how I kept up with it all. As a mom, things change all the time, we moved TWICE, dogs came and went, kids succeed and failed, cupcakes were forgotten, etc. You know; as a working parent we’re lucky enough to remember to match our socks, let alone grade 100 papers before helping with homework and making lunches.

Every year in school I was given approximately 100 new students, 100 new names, 200 new parents, and a grocery list of things I had to accomplish in 180 days. I was bombarded with standards, assessments, benchmarks, goals, etc – when all I wanted to do was help the kids find a great book to read and discuss and then give them the opportunity to read every day! HA! Are you laughing too?

Like all teachers, I attended so many in-services, conferences, and committee meetings that all believed they had “the fix.” I’ll try anything once. Changing what I did the year before always seemed a little scary, but when I believed it could work, I found more than not, I nailed it. But, there always seemed to be more nails needed.

Then I went to an Align, Assess, Achieve meeting and found that change didn’t need to be so scary, it did not have to happen all at once, it was easy enough for me to try, fail, and try again without damaging any of my students’ minds. As I worked through the bumps, mishaps, trials, and errors, I actually found myself becoming the teacher I had always wanted to be.

Change does not have to be scary.

Formative and Summative Assessments are not going to be just another set of buzzwords. Learning targets and “I can” statements will change the way your children walk into the room, let alone how they learn! Big Ideas and Essential Questions are so important for the students, but even more effective for the teacher! And, Feedback…well I’ve seen change. I’ve witnessed change in my student’s writing because of how I communicated with them; I encouraged and created a safe environment because of descriptive feedback on their work! The fear of asking what they missed or why disappeared, and knowing they had the chance to “do-over” and re-learn became positive learning experiences instead of negative ones.

If you’ve attended an Align, Assess, Achieve in-service, how have you changed as a teacher? How have your students changed? I’d love to hear from you. How have you tried using AAA in your classroom, what did you do to succeed? Was there something that you promised yourself you’d never try again? What did you tweak from our presentation to make it your own? How have you reflected on your strengths and weaknesses? Or, maybe just share a story when you had to re-teach or totally alter your lesson in order to have that ultimate “ah-ha” moment!

Have a great school year! Happy Teaching!

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