The Connected Educator Back-to-School Blues

Most teachers lament returning to work. While parents are ready for their little darlings to stop harassing them every hour of every day about going to the pool or theme parks or bowling or anything but sitting on the couch so we can work, teachers have the opposite. Our summer break is over, we have to go back to work after two months off.

For me, and I believe for connected educators across the board, going back to work presents a different set of challenges.

Summer, for me, is all about learning opportunities, interactions, connections. It’s twitter chats, conferences, Voxer groups, podcast interviews. It’s constant professional development, new ideas, planning out changes, and running those plans by other connected educators.

All of this combined creates a kind of bubble around me. By the end of the summer, I fully believe that my ideas are going to be met with excitement by the teachers on my campus. That isn’t to say that I’m oblivious to resistance. Possible resistance is built into my plans, but it’s planned for. I know how it is going to go. All the people I’ve talked to for the last two months agree: This is going to be awesome!

Helmuth von Moltke once said “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” (and yes, I Googled that). In my case, no excitement survives first contact with teachers.

Coming back to school is like bursting a positivity bubble by hitting me in the face with it. Hard.

What it comes down to is the summer is a vacuum in which it is easy to forget that not all educators are as excited about making real change as I am, or as my PLN is. Teachers, and not all teachers but some, can be really negative. They don’t think their classroom instruction needs to change, so they don’t care how the PD is presented, they don’t want it. They don’t all agree that grading is flawed or homework isn’t effective. They don’t buy-in to standards-based grading, flexible seating, digital curriculum, technology integration, or flipped instruction like I do.

They are annoyed because learning a new testing platform is a pain. They’re miserable because course progressions have changed. They’re pissed that the principal wants more data from them. And it isn’t just the ones you expect. It can be your friends, it can be your co-teacher, it can be people you’ve worked with for years or weeks. And in none of these things are they wrong or unjustified.

It comes in drips and drabs, and it comes in waves. It builds and builds, and it is suffocating and overwhelming. It takes the wind out of my excitement sails.

Here I sit with the connected educator back-to-school blues.