Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I've read a lot this past week about change...

Pernille Ripp's (@pernilleripp) blogpost is about how change doesn't have to be all or nothing - changing whatever you're comfortable with.  No one has to change everything all at once!

I don't know how I got to Rosalind Goldsmith's (@rozgoldsmith) blogpost (following a tweet, maybe?), but she talks about how she needed change in order to love her job again.

Following one of Rosalind's tweets, I read David Culberhouse's (@dculberhouse) blog post about complacency.

Justin Tarte (@justintarte) will embark on change in meetings at his school - excellent ideas here, and his staff will definitely benefit. He wants to encourage his staff to "question the status quo."

Will Richardson (@willrich45) posted No Quick Fix, saying "Meaningful change ain't gonna happen for our kids if we're not willing to invest in it for ourselves first."

Tweet from @Oprah_World, RT by @gallit_z, "Whether you think you're ready or not, just start right now. There is magic in action."

Blog by Leslie Whittington (@whittclass) about how change came about due to her Twitter PLN!

I've been invested in change since... since... well, okay - I embrace change - with the stipulation being I get to decide what changes will be implemented!  When it's forced upon me, I cringe. I look around to see how it can fit into my life in the easiest way possible, and adapt by doing what I can to accommodate those in charge.  But when it is MY idea, I run with it.  If it will benefit me, or those around me, I go for it.  I feel the need to change when it will benefit the world around me.  Those who know me closely, know that the last three years have brought about tremendous changes in my personal life.  I would not have turned over the apple cart had I not felt it was a necessity for my well-being.  As for my career as a teacher, I tip that cart each and every day I question my teaching strategies, my classroom management, my lessons, my homework (or lack thereof), my assessments, etc.  I keep thinking all teachers must do this, and then I hear of a teacher poo-pooing an idea I've implemented, and she hasn't even tried it herself.

This post is not about IF change is needed.  I have the belief that change IS needed.  How - this is the question for teachers resistant. If teaching is your true goal, and you know your students aren't getting all they can from your class, how can you change - without it being painful or stressful?  It makes me think of how I changed this year.  (I won't go years back in time - read my bio and you'll see I embrace change!!)

In just this one year, so many things happened...
1.  Brian Kaye, our principal, encouraged teachers to go on Twitter.  I signed up, reluctantly, and used it the first day of school, then forgot about it.
2.  In October, I was offered the chance to pilot four weeks of reading and writing on iPad2s - each student would receive one!  I was scared out of my wits, and didn't want to do it.  I was strongly encouraged, however, and my saving grace was that it would be finished the day before winter break. This change had an end point that I could see ahead of me.
3.  The four weeks were over - but not really.  What I had learned about the technology, about the students, about a new way to challenge students... stayed with me.  I longed for more.  The students reacted so well to reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (mind you - they're 7th graders!), that I needed to challenge them more.  I was more of a facilitator than ever before, and students blossomed.
4.  I received an iPad2 to use until I retire!! YES! I got on Twitter once again, and began to build my PLN.
A few of next year's plans...!
5.  I went to a one-day workshop in Birmingham, MI to see Ewan McIntosh talk about Design Thinking. Why was I chosen to go? Perhaps it was because I took the chance to pilot the iPad lessons. Either way, I wanted to go - I wanted to change my independent reading process...  This time I wanted the change - I was invested in it...
6.  And then... my Twitter PLN grew, and I found out about Genius Hour (#geniushour). This blog shows my reflection from then on...

I'm not saying change is easy.  Some of it takes time.  Some of it requires help from others.  But I do believe it is necessary.  Genius Hour was my big change this year.  What will it be next year...??  I look forward to having an open mind toward future changes...


  1. If the choice is between change and entropy, I'll pick change every time. The tricky part is knowing how much change is good, and which systemic components need changing.

    Thanks for this reflection. You just gave me an idea for a blog post too.


  2. This is a great post, Joy. When you talk about change only being meaningful when it is your idea, I thought about students, and how they get so much more out of self-directed learning. Teachers are just big students!

    Keep changing!