Change of Plans

A plan is a great thing, no? I’ve learned over the last year that a plan is often just a suggestion (COVID, am I right?). Just as soon as I think I know what I’m going to do next, something–or someone–comes along and messes it all up. Or at least changes it up. The thing you thought was your next right step becomes differently prioritized. So instead of writing about my favorite past posts, I will tell this story instead.

I met with a friend today, to catch up over coffee after not seeing each other for a couple of years. We talked about our kids and what we’re learning about being moms of teenagers and how there’s just no instructional manual for those things (or if you have one that I don’t know about, will you share it with me?!). We used to work together and so the conversation eventually came around to what we’re doing now and what’s up in the education world. She told me about some amazing things she’s been doing in her program that were recently in the newspaper and how much she’s loving what she’s doing (which I hope that I can someday soon link to right here in this blog!). I shared about what’s been going on with me over the past year, and brought up how frustrated I have become with the pace at how fast everything is changing around me. Of course, change is inevitable (there’s a quote about something about change being the only constant, right?), but it seems like change is my only constant these days.

Because I am the only part of the equation I can control, I have had to think through the things that I might be able to do to get me back to my version of normal. Or at least to try to head towards that place where I am fulfilled and inspired enough that maybe the changes around me bother me a little less.

One thing that has disappeared from my routine of the last few years in this blog. Starting Over is evidence of that, right? Beyond the fact that I haven’t blogged for a bit, I haven’t been writing in any form at all. For me, writing (whether it’s in my notebook for me online for you), it’s how I process my world. It’s not that I haven’t stopped to think or reflect on anything since 2019, but I can definitely see how NOT working out my thoughts and feelings in writing has changed how I move through the world. I am less aware, less thoughtful, less likely to look for a new or innovative way to problem solve. Somehow for me the absence of that ritual has meant missing out on slowing down, stopping to really notice what’s going on around me and think about my place in it.

Another thing that’s been missing for me are my connections on Twitter. If you’re new around here, then you might not have heard the story of how I use Twitter to improve my practice, make connections and share my thoughts with other educators. Because I haven’t been doing that, I have missed so much of what has been happening in the world and seeing what others are doing. This one is a little trickier than the blog, though, because if you’ve spent any time on Twitter you know it can be a pretty vile place, depending on which threads you wonder into or who you read and follow. While I know that there was much YUCK that surely lived on Twitter in 2020, I also have no doubt I missed out on some really smart insight from a fellow educator that would have benefited me as I worked through that last year.

So what am I to do with this? I am in a weird place as a teacher right now, wishing for some things of the past and trying to look positively at the future through “change-colored” glasses. The pandemic has laid bare some of the things I hold dear as an educator, one being connecting with others and also feeling like my ideas are being validated. I cannot control what happens to me, but I can certainly have some influence on what happens with and in me. I can decide that I am going to write more often (remember the schedule I planned?), I can make time for Twitter and also connect with people in my real life (thank God for vaccines!). I can share my worries and frustrations with those in-person friends and let them help me work through them. I can listen when my kind, smart, AMAZING friend, Kerry, tells me how it feels when she comes in my classroom: how it feels safe, comfortable and alive, and how I make learning fun but how it’s still rigorous and full of language. I can listen when she tells me of how she’s doing such innovative and exciting things with her high schoolers, and cheer her on as she changes lives and inspires the next generation. And most of all, I can remember that all that I do in my classroom day after day (and all the hours and hours I spend at night and on weekends) is for the 20somethingkids. And for them, I will always be willing to change my plans.

4 thoughts on “Change of Plans

  1. Cheers to you, Jen! What a powerful and inspiring blog. I am eager to keep reading & learning alongside of you about how slowing down, reflecting, writing and reconnecting (FTF and through Twitter) may re-energize or refocus us both after this crazy year! No doubt getting those 3rd graders in your space will play a big part in sparking new ideas and inspiration, too, since you are (and have always been) a joyful listener, learner and coach for whoever enters your space, myself included. And now, to dust off my blog… Also on Twitter: @wgchelseactr.

    • Thank you so so much for reading and also for the inspiring conversation that led to this post! I so appreciate your kindness and wisdom as well as the way you are such a great encouragement to me in all areas of life! Let’s use this year to inspire and engage–each other and our students! I will start following your amazingness on Twitter, too. Thanks for sharing! And let me know when your blog is updated. I want to read it!! 🙂

  2. Mrs. Bearden, it is a beautifully vulnerable and inspiring post! Though my first grader with you is already in middle school, I enjoy reading your posts! So come what change, keep writing. I can totally resonate with processing my world through writing. Someone once said, writing is thinking through the fingers 🙂 You may like Dan Seigels concept of science behind journaling, that says writing integrates right and left hemispheres and aids problem solving (Too sciency, sorry!)
    Since you asked, I loved this parenting book for ages twos to teens: https://www.amazon.com/Confident-Parents-Kids-Emotional-Intelligence/dp/1592339042

    • Oh my goodness! The fact that you have been such a faithful blog reader for so many years is so special to me. Your enthusiasm is part of what kept me going for many years and I love that you’re still reading now! Thanks for the comment, and also for sharing such smart resources. I’m excited to check them out. And nope–no such thing as too “sciency!” Also, did A tell you about the email he sent me? I believe he was responding to something I sent to him about an announcement video he had done, but he signed it “One of the 20somethingkids” and I almost melted right there on the floor. Such a special thing and one reason I will love your family FOREVER!! Thanks for your encouragement and support. :). Please stay in touch!!

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