The Amazing Transformation of an Educator

When I became a teacher, I wanted to change lives. I wanted to instill passion into the boring classrooms. I wanted the disenfranchised student to find their niche with me and discover learning comes in many forms. Pretty ambitious hey?

Working with the confines of an actual school, complete with division goals and administrative visions made my dream of being the inspiring teacher I wanted to be a much more difficult task than I had anticipated. I couldn’t always follow the path I wanted to as I had become aware of professional obligations and deadlines. Basically, I got into a classroom and found out what being a teacher is really about.

This year, I returned to school after the summer feeling truly blasé about my assignment. I didn’t really care that much about what I was doing. UH-OH! I knew in my heart it was time for a new career. I wasn’t about to subject a bunch of kids to a lackadaisical and idle teacher.

Then something amazing happened. An opportunity to join our division’s Exploring Leadership cohort appeared. I joined the group and was able to participate in discussions about leadership. and changes in education practices. It was easy to get excited about spending a Monday night once a month with a group of people who were passionate about being excellent leaders in their schools. I was hooked.  With my interest in my profession piqued, I was more open to exploring  changes in the way the educational system worked with kids.

My Principal, George Couros, opened up some ideas by showing me the RSA of Sir Ken Robinson and his Changing Education Paradigms lecture. Wow! It is like Sir Ken read my mind. The education system is short-changing a large percentage of the population. This has always been my belief and thank goodness someone much smarter than me was able to put it in words. I felt empowered to speak up about things that needed to change. I was ready to adapt my assessment practices and teaching strategies. This time, it wasn’t an initiative “forced” on me by the powers that be. I was finally ready to take some ownership in my district. As Carolyn Cameron put it during one Exploring Leadership session, I was moving away from being a “classroom teacher” and moving toward being a “school teacher”.  My passion for change in education began to shine through and was noticed by others.

My Assistant Principal, Carolyn Jensen, took notice and allowed me to take a role on the Comprehensive Reporting Team. A whole new world opened up to me! I was amazed that our school division was working to shift reporting to include better communication to parents, more hands-on and real-life curricular ties and engaging student learning by asking them to report on themselves. My employer was not paying lip service to best practices; it was ACTUALLY using them! Revolutionary!

I am thrilled to a part of such an important change and to be on a team that is willing to risk moving forward quickly when others would simply wait and watch. This year,  I am ready to take on the challenges that come with change. I want to be a better teacher, a better leader and involved in my career. I only hope that other teachers can survive long enough to have the same transformation I have had.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolyn Cameron
    May 05, 2011 @ 18:11:59

    Hi Melissa,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post, Melissa (but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoyed meeting you in person at the Exploring Leadership session!!!) I am delighted to hear about the transformation you are experiencing this year – and I am so excited that Parkland School Division has a passionate teacher leader like you working with our students and families. I am also inspired by the incredible work our School Division is doing in the area of assessment and reporting. I hope our paths cross again!



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  3. Carolyn Jensen
    May 12, 2011 @ 22:13:04

    Hi Melissa – It is easy to give opportunities to those who have passion and skill. Even though you are still pretty young in your career, you’ve had some pretty unique experiences that will serve you well as you continue to grow and develop as a “school teacher”. Your insights into the human condition and relationship building skills along with your passion for pedagogy and practice will no doubt lead you in a career journey that will be exciting to say the least. Be sure to look after your self – frequently make some “Missa Time” – and have a blast with this stuff. Isn’t it great?!


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