In the summer of 2010, after 17 years as a classroom teacher, everything changed for me. I read Dan Pink's bestselling book, Drive: the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, and although it sounds trite, this quickly became the most important book I'd ever read.
Although I wasn't one of those longtime teachers who was worn down by the system and needed to retire (I always tried to infuse fresh methods into my class), each school year ended with a renewed sense of failure. The things I tried, in order to improve my teaching and my students' learning never seemed to be enough.
I attended a cornucopia of seminars and classes to make teachers better, and I even presented at several conferences, on the subject of web-based instruction -- a specialty area of mine, which I'll address more later. So every august in those 17 years arrived with renewed vigor, but when the calendar turned to June, I couldn't get out quickly enough.
Something had to change
Finally, the summer I read Drive, nearly two decades of what I’d done in the classroom was re-evaluated, with special consideration given to rapport-building, cooperative learning and classroom management. I asked myself plenty of questions. What worked with kids? What didn’t work? Why was the prior year such a monumental failure for a veteran teacher who had seen everything in the classroom? Most important, how could things have been different, and how might I apply everything I’d recently studied to my own teaching? Could I re-invent my classroom? How could I truly impact my students?
Once my own research and evaluation period was complete, I started planning, and I redefined a teacher. Another school year began, and I entered the doors and strode toward my classroom with a fresh perspective. I even changed my wardrobe, replacing jeans and golf shirts with slacks and a blazer. Armed with solid research and a powerful need for change, I was ready to rebuild my broken classroom and turn it into a Results Only Learning EnvironmentTM.