(Brace For Impact)
It’s time to brace for impact, people. Some people hear that phrase and think the worst. Life throws us all some major curveballs and thankfully, I am learning to knock them out of the park! Little did I know five years ago that I would be sitting here writing this blog post and sharing my shenanigans with the world. Since then, my teaching life has changed exponentially and doesn’t resemble anything that was familiar in the last decade. The crazy part is… I love it! As I sit back and reflect on what has brought me to this point, I realized the best way to share the information is by school year. Being new to the blogging world, it helps for you to know where I’m coming from and where I’m headed in case you want to join me on Mrs. Hulsman’s Wild Ride! As a pretty rigid concrete sequential, I’ve owned the fact that that’s just how my brain likes to work. The creative juices flow, but they can only be shared in a super organized fashion.
After spending seven years in third grade, I knew I was becoming complacent and that it was time for a change. I loved teaching with these ladies, but new was needed.
At the same time, my principal asked me to take the Elementary Education certification test so I could become a writing coach and intervention teacher for the upper grades. Knowing that I would one day return to the classroom, the lifelong learner in me loved all this time to grow and think through attending vast amounts of professional development and helping other educators at my site.
In the middle of the summer, I got the call. She might as well have said, “Take everything that’s familiar and throw it out the window.” My principal of almost twelve years at the only school I’d ever worked at was moved across the district to help reform a school in need. No one saw it coming with two years left before her retirement; least of all, me!
As one of four academic coaches, Problem Solving Team chair, and co-testing coordinator, I spent the year learning A LOT alongside my new administrator, a newly promoted assistant principal.We had fun, but burnout was just around the corner because of the vast differences from one year to the next. There is only so much one person can do when big changes occur and it’s important to recognize when it’s time to change course.
While my relationships with other colleagues grew and I amassed an arsenal of ideas that could be used in all subject areas, I also learned that I don’t enjoy only working with adults. I missed having a classroom and it was time to see what else was out there. My TLSI program opened my eyes to so many new ideas, and I learned amazing things as a coach that I wanted to implement in my own room. Goodbye known, hello new horizons.
Summer 2013. A breath of fresh (hot) air. It was 85 degrees with no A/C when I moved into my classroom! ☺ A new lease on my teaching life. New school, new grade level, new me. Very few people knew me, no one expected anything of me, I could just be a classroom teacher and try out all of these wonderful ideas. Don’t mistake my JUST for thinking that classroom teachers have it any easier than academic coaches. Having done both jobs, I was just happy to be able to hone my focus on one class instead of being pulled in a thousand different directions wearing all those hats. Little did I know that change (that wasn’t on my terms) was just around the corner.
A week after I was hired, I learned I was going to be working for a new principal. WHAT?!? I joined my new school because my children were there and because I had heard about and seen such wonderful collaboration among the staff and students. I was hired by a principal I had never worked for and had to shift gears yet again to prepare for the new. Unexpected change was becoming a trend and you’d think that I would have started to expect it! I hadn’t made that connection yet and being a usually cup half full kinda girl, the joy of having my own room again and being with these smiling faces every day overtook everything else.
Having a new administrator actually put all of us on a level playing field and we were able to learn more together. His style was very different from any of my previous administrators and I learned after this first year together that opportunity was knocking.
BOOM! My attending the ECET2 convening in my district catapulted me into worlds unknown. To say that I was on fire for learning and reenergized as a teacher would be vastly understated. 50% of my team changed, we got 22 new teachers at Spirit, and I was all like Bring It ON!
I helped start a Twitter movement in my district, was asked to blog for the Center for Teaching Quality, applied for national fellowships, and was on the planning team for my district’s first annual Edcamp. My husband was pretty sure I had gone off the deep end because I was up until 11 p.m. and back up at 5:00 a.m. making sure I didn’t miss any of my favorite chats.
By this point, I have should have expected it when an emergency faculty meeting was called that would only take a few minutes. Yep! You guessed it! Get ready for the blow! Goodbye Mr. Vaughan, Hello Mrs. Young!
For the third time in just as many years, I’m teaching under new administration. Pro: I’ve heard she’s awesome and when we met just a few short weeks ago for a School Leadership Team meeting in my district, I get the impression that her vision of students first and the importance of building relationships aligns with mine.
Con: I had a really great ride going under Mr. Vaughan’s leadership. Because of his belief in shared leadership and transparency, I was able to take some big risks and reap the rewards of rapid growth. When I thought he’d still be my principal, I took the leap to loop with my class to yet another new grade level and new team and decided to become a blended learning pilot for my school.
All that new, NEW hotness coupled with new administration makes me shake in my pirate boots a bit, but bringing the focus back to my students and growing another year with them is encouraging and comforting. To say I’m excited about its potential is an understatement. Thanks to Edcamps and Twitter and all the newfound awesomeness I have unearthed outside my four walls, I’m creating YouTube videos and challenging their minds already this summer.
What’s most important is that while I know I will have to continue to brace for impact (in fact, I do it so much now I that I’ve made it the name of my blog!), having adopted a growth mindset makes the blows easier to take. There are less days that I cry, find the closest drive thru for some stress relieving fries, and freak out to every person that’ll listen on the phone. Change is inevitable and I am learning to embrace it while I brace for its impact. Because of it, I can say I have learned and grown more in the past year than I did my first ten years teaching. Have you considered your journey? How do you handle the changes? One of the great things about the connected educator world of blogging, Twitter, and social media is that we aren’t on this wild ride alone. Hop on the crazy train and join me for the ride!