Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Committed vs Compelled

     I am participating in the  
     March Slice of Life Challenge
     Each day we post our thoughts. 
     Thank you, Two Writing Teachers

     Day 8 - Committed vs. Compelled

I used to think that "committed" was a pretty strong word. I thought committment brought focus and strength to the task. Throughout my life I have been committed to many things. One year, I was committed to participating in the Slice of Life Challenge but that didn't go so well. A post or two was all I could muster.

Over the years, I have been committed to doing many things...

     becoming a better cook (yes, I have collected a treasure of recipes on Pinterest),
     raising flowers and plants (I actually have become quite good at it),
     being craftier (I am good at making homemade Christmas ornaments and baby afghans),
     and exercising (I am embarrassed to admit how many exercise videos are saved to my computer).

So, I got pretty good at collecting things around my commitments. I have been thinking that I can be committed to being a better cook, but if I don't make my way into the kitchen and try some new recipes, I am simple committed to the "idea" of being a good cook.

I have collected a zillion workout videos on my computer (yes, I have), but if I don't get off the couch and actually try them out, I am not getting healthier or thinner. I am simply committed to the "idea" of exercising and getting healthier. (I am getting much better at this as I work out at the gym and do some workouts on my own at home.)

As a teacher, I was a bit different. Yes, I collected articles and read professional books. I collected things around my commitment to teach well. I participated in professional development and attended workshops on improving instruction.

But being committed wasn't enough. I think I was compelled to do more. I tried new strategies in the classroom. I improved the design of my classroom and our classroom library. I tried to improve my conferring skills. I worked hard at developing relationships with my students. I reflected on my teaching and was determined to make it better. I did some "self-propelled" professional development by connecting with other educators and observing others teach.

What was the difference? Being compelled denoted an action. It wasn't enough to just collect the things around my commitments. I had to act. I am very committed to my beliefs about learning and teaching, but unless I act I am merely committed and not really compelled to improve. I truly believe that being committed to a vision of successful learning is critical. But so is being compelled to do something about it. I am compelled to think, reflect, take action, change something.

And what does that mean for our work with children? 
Are we committed or compelled?