Sweaty palms and surprising myself

“I write because I want to find something out” (Richardson, 1994, p 517)

“I’ve found I can only change how I act if I stay aware of my beliefs and assumptions. Thoughts always reveal themselves in behaviour. As humans, we often contradict ourselves— we say one thing and do another. (Wheatley, 2002, p. 12 )

On Tuesday, my boss asked if he and teacher-colleague could come and observe my class today. They are beta testing a new method of evalutating  teachers and wanted to see if what they noticed about my class aligned.

“No problem,” I said. My door is always open unless I’m being super loud. My boss comes in on a regular basis, often bringing visitors to see how things are in my room. My boss smiled as he commented on how five years ago I would have been sweating in my boots. 

Fast forward to today as students are gathering whiteboards and felts in preparation for a formative assessment on biomes and ecosystems. There’s a test on Tuesday and I wanted to see where they’re at in their understanding; I also want the kids to see where their gaps are.

From the corner of my eye I see a wall, a gang, an ARMY of people coming through the door. It’s really only five people but my frontal lobes weren’t connecting to my limbic system, and if they were, the limbic system was winning. I don’t know if it’s because I was tired and/or overwhelmed but I went into fight, flight, or become invisible mode. My hands were shaking, my mouth went dry, I had to grab a mug of water before I could continue. The lesson went well, I had fun, the kids were engaged but I was drained by the experience.

Why? “What caused me to behave that way and not some other way?” (Wheatley, 2002, p.12)

I was painfully aware of what was happening to me but unable to control it. It was as if I was separate from that person struck by panic. I was standing outside myself watching as the wave of panic washed over me. Reflecting on my experience, I realize how close to the edge of done I really am; how the many tasks I am attempting to balance are running me me ragged. Thank god it’s a pro-d tomorrow.

After work, one of the people who had come in to observe stopped by and I told him how I had felt. We had a long conversation about where I am at as a result of my inquiry. He listened as I shared my passion and excitement about what I am learning and noticing. He could see what my kids are doing because their work is covering my walls. And he wondered if I was sharing what I’m learning with my department or school.  I mumbled something about how we’re in different places and I don’t want to impose. He said I could invite people to hear my story on one of our collaboration days and then people could choose to come.

“It takes courage to start a conversation. But if we don’t start talking to one another, nothing will change.” ( Wheatley, 2002, p 15)






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