Starting this journey, there's so many hoops to jump through, and so much ‘red tape’, that a person could easily be tempted and lured into giving up. In education, everything we try to change seems to be like pushing molasses up a mountain. Many educators know the issues we are facing and the strategies that do not work. The canned curriculum that takes away joy. The support for students that is never enough. But to change takes energy... perseverance... and often it takes ‘being uncomfortable’ and inconvenient.
Movement Method is the ideal philosophy to help our students that need a little extra support. When I got back from the training, I was able to implement many ideas right away for my entire class.
But I still noticed the one on one para support, pulling out worksheet after worksheet, asking students to ‘calm down’. These children obviously were in no state to even hear her. Asking for eye contact... choosing battles that were not necessary.
Having 23 other students in the room, of course there is often no time to support just one, or instruct support staff what is best in certain situations. The ideal scenario would be if the support staff knew about Movement Method. They are on the front line to make a difference being one on one. They are able to take the kiddo out and adjust his/her learning situation to their own interests and needs.
After this observation I went to our principal to ask if I could train paraprofessionals on the method. I am already an IB certified school evaluator and trainer, present online professional development for the district and certainly had the qualification to offer training.
I was very enthusiastic and expected a ‘yes of course- makes total sense’- instead I received without a second thought.. a simple “No, no time, no money”.
We just spent $10,000 on an electronic announcement board and entrance way... and we do not have money for things that actually have an impact on our students directly?
I went home highly frustrated, and of course, this is where a lot of educators initiatives end. But maybe they should not. How important should this change be that we want to see? How passionate are we? And what are we willing to endure to turn things around?
Speakers like Rupert Isaacson and Sir Ken Robinson are often not the most ‘comfortable’ people to listen to, but they kindle a fire, light a passion, and actually inspire people to make drastic changes that are necessary to effect the education system in a way where it has a direct positive impact on student learning.
Having their speeches and arguments in the back of my mind, I pushed away the frustration, the fear and intimidation of influential people, focused on the importance of the issue at hand and kept the passion going.
For the first time in 5 years in the same district, I took the courage to set up a meeting with the superintendent of the zone to present what I had discovered in Movement Method, the results, and my plan.
Being an open minded supportive administrator open for innovation, he set up a meeting. He listened very attentively, and since I had no concrete numbers of effectiveness, I invited him to watch a demo lesson to see the impact Movement Method had.
Thankfully, he took the time to come by, watched the kiddos learn, truly engaged, and he saw my room transformed to a peaceful, inviting learning environment. So much so, come Friday afternoon, more than half the students do not want to leave.
Another meeting was set up. I prepared science back-up information. Data sheets after sheets that would show my point of the importance of training paraprofessionals, only to have him fully support me after just two minutes!
He was so convinced and really wanted me to have a chance to collect impact data and be a model for other schools. This time, paras are coming in on their own time. I am so impressed with their commitment and they are so grateful for my investment that it is a win win situation!
However, I already confronted our superintendent of the district with questions about future investment into our para training.
We are in communication and hopefully moving forward.
Will there be setbacks? I am certain of it. And to be honest, this has not been a smooth easy road to take... but so worth it.
Behavior in my class has improved, scores have gone up. Students like coming to school. I hear comments like “I love math” and “I'm getting it now” more common than ever before.
The last parent teacher conferences presented immense positive support and comments from parents. They are seeing noticeable changes in students attitude toward school and learning.