Change? What kind of change will you make?

What kind of change will you make?

What kind of change will you make?


Change is never easy, in matter of fact it is one of the hardest things to do.   In order for someone to truly change, they need to be motivated.  But motivated by what?

That’s my challenge today!  Is it possible for me to make others think about what changes they need to make in their own life?  I guess I first need to find a focus and that focus will be for teacher.  It doesn’t matter if you have been teaching for 1 year and are still new to the profession or if you are a 30 year veteran who is about to retire. 

Front of the Class reminded me that teachers can change!  After the movie aired on CBS, I received thousands of emails.  Many of them were from teachers saying “Thank You” for reminding them the impact they have on children in the classroom.  Many teachers like me get so caught up in the paperwork, politics, parent needs, and the curriculum that we sometimes forget why were became teachers.  It is for the children!  Students must come first!

I know I wanted to be that teacher that I never had.  I wanted to make a difference in our schools and help all students believe in themselves and help them learn to the best they can be.  But often times we may lose perspective because of high stakes testing during this age of accountability.  I’m standing up now and reminding teachers not to forget why they became a teacher.

I also remind teachers that it is never too late to change the way you work in your classroom.  Don’t be afraid of change, befriend change!  Change can be one of the best things you can do for your students.  As teachers, we must be able to change our instruction in the classroom as education changes in society.  As the standards change and become more rigorous, so must our teaching practices. 

If I was truly sick and had cancer or a chronic disease, would I want my doctor to treat me the same way they treated patients 25 years ago.  NO, NO, NO!  I would want the latest and greatest that medicine has to offer.  Just like the medical field, the education field is changing too.  Research has been going on to show how kids learn best and it is important to follow the research in order to give our student the best education has to offer.

Many viewers and reader of my story said Front of the Class reminded them that they need to be a little more patient, a little more aware of what life is like for kids who have challenges in the classroom.  Some challenges can be seen by others, but many challenges are not.  As teachers, we must learn to communicate with our students and listen to their voice.  We need to hear how they learn best.  We need to know what they need in the classroom.  We need to see that maybe, it is not the child who needs to change, but it is us as teachers who need to do the changing.

I remember hearing once that when I teach in my classroom, only 1/3 of my class learns the same way I do.  Most teachers teach the same way they learn. That means we are probably not hitting 2/3 of our class in the most effective way.  So, what changes do we as teachers need to make?

  1. Listen
  2. Listen
  3. Listen

Listen to everyone. Listen to the researchers. Listen to moms.  Listen to the dads.  Listen to administrators.  Listen to the new teachers.  Listen to the veteran teachers. Listen to my story where I share with others what it was like to grow up being different and all I wanted was to be treated like everyone else.  Listen to your students.  Because that is who we are here for. 

In the “real” world, you would listen to your clients.  If you didn’t, they may fire you or just leave and go somewhere else.  They may actually give you some sort of advice that would help you in the field or help themselves.  In the field of education we need to listen to our students or else we will fail them.  It is our job as teachers to make a difference in the lives of every single student we work with.  What better way to make a positive change in the life of a child then to just sit back one day and listen.

What changes will you make this year?  Will you make these changes for one day or for the rest of your career?  I guess it all depends if you are listening to your students.

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19 Responses to “Change? What kind of change will you make?”

  1. Pete Post Says:

    This is my 35th year of teaching – a first year in a fifth grade classroom, 30 years teaching high school students with special needs and now my fourth year at a college working with pre-service teachers. One of the requirements of my Introduction to Special Education course is to put down the textbook and pick up a book written by a person with a disability, their parent or a teacher. Try to get the REAL story. What a blessing when a student discovered Brad Cohen’s book and shared it with me. I suggested that he e-mail Brad and we were both excited when he actually replied. And now I have discovered this wonderful blog and I will challenge my students to avail themselves of this essential information. Their assignment for a reflection this week – as they begin their teacher aiding – is to respond to this article with a statement of how they intend to make their future classroom an instrument of change. Thank you for providing this reflective opportunity.
    Prof Pete Post

  2. admin Says:

    WOW! It is so neat to see the potential that Front of the Class can have on our future. Thank you Prof Post for allowing your students a chance to learn authentically through the eyes of people who have lived life and have lessons to teach others. Now that is hands on learning! I think that student who emailed me deserves a little extra credit 🙂 It would also be neat if your students were able to post some things on this BLOG. We can have them post without using their real names. Cheers to you! Brad

  3. Dana Losacco Says:

    I really enjoyed this article, and I agree with everything that was said in it. I believe that as teachers we will need to constantly change the ways in which we run our classroom, whether its the ways of teaching, or ways of managemnet, in order to better our students learning environment. I really enjoyed the part of this blog when it stated how only 1/3 of the students learn the same as the teacher. I know that not everyone learns the same way, so when I am teaching, I plan to teach a lesson with many different learning styles so that all studetns benefit from the class material. For example, it math you can show how to work out a problem, you can tell students how to work out a problem,and you can use manipulatives to give the students a hands on feel of how to go about solving the problem. By using all three of these ways, you are appealing to many different learning behaviors. I also think that it is very important to LISTEN when it comes to change. Sometimes by listening to others, you can come up with a wonderful idea. It is hard to come up with things on your own sometimes. By having students telling you what would benefit them and paretns telling you ways they believe their student learns best, you can come up with great methods to better your students learning in a classroom. I believe that when you are teaching change is very important because not everything you have done in the past is going to work again. It is our job as teachers to continuously come up with different methods to benefit our students.

  4. Mike Jones Says:

    One point in this article that I really liked was that teachers should LISTEN to each other. Teachers listening to and sharing ideas with each other can be one of the best ways to help them more effectively reach their student. Sometimes though, teachers can get set in their ways or be afraid to ask each other for advice. It reminds me of when an education professor of mine once said that teachers need to “Learn to be good thieves,” and by that he means they need to swipe away good ideas from each other, which will be a benefit to their students. A teacher cannot assess their class’s progress without listening to their concerns and comments, and this is how I would make my classroom an instrument of change; by making every class not just a learning experience for my students, but for myself as well, because by listening to my students I will be learning something new everyday as well. Listening is one of the most inportant skills a person can have, but is often overlooked. Listening more shouldn’t just be a change thats made for the year, but a lifestyle change for a teacher at any level.

  5. Kourtney DeVries Says:

    Reading through this article, I was so encouraged. After observing a couple of teachers during observation hours I was beginning to wonder if teachers really enjoyed teaching anymore. It seems with so much extra stuff, like you talked about with the school politics and all that goes along with that, teachers get wrapped up in all the negativity and test scores and reports and lawsuits that the actually teaching gets lost in the mix. Teachers forget that they decided to be teachers to make a difference in the lives of children because they feel like they have something to offer. In the race for better test scores, they forget that it’s also their job to enrich the lives of their students. Maybe we all need to take another look at what we want out of our jobs, and more then what we want, what we can offer to our jobs. We’ve entered a service-centered field and that’s what we need to remember.

    When our students challenge and frustrate us, when test scores sag and the district gets on our case, we need to take a good look at ourselves and our teaching. Our students can only learn as well as we can teach them, so we need to take a hard look at ourselves. Maybe it’s time for change. Maybe it’s time for something new. We have the capacity to educate and enrich our students and we need to hold that power in highest esteem.

  6. Tasha Roark Says:

    What a great reminder that teachers need to be working for the students, not just working for their supervisor or the school. As a student studying to become a teaching and being able to observe through field experience, I can appreciate the amount of work and time put into preparing a lesson. But it’s true, it doesn’t stop there! We need to think out side of “our box,” outside of the way we learn best, so that we can teach our students in the best way possible. We need to make sure that students are actually learning and not just going through the motions of schoolwork; they should have fun doing it and be excited about what they are learning, but WE are the ones who need to make it fun, who need to take the time to put extra effort into planning lessons and such. And thank you for the reminder that it is GOOD to ask the students and listen to input that students give about the best ways they are able to learn; let them have a sense of ownership in their education!
    Thank you for your encouragement!

  7. Laura Bohannan Says:

    This article really hit close to home.. I myself has always struggled academically because of my learning disability and my ADHD.. It was extemely frustrating because the teachers never seemed to understand that I was not trying because I was lazy, but because I dod not understand anything they were saying and I would be so lost a compass couldnt save me..I would spend more than half the class period just doodling because the teacher was flying through the notes so fast that instead of trying to keep up, I just gave up.. Teachers do need to make a change in their teachign styles, especially those who are sticking to their “old school” teacher methods.. It doesn’t work for everybody.. You make think its hard to deal with a student struggling in your class, heck, its ten times harder to be the student! Change needs to happen if teachers want all their students to succeed.

  8. Jessica Duff Says:

    Brad is correct when he states that change is a difficult aspect in our life. Nowadays, everyone is so content with their lifestyles to the point where they fear change. People need to understand that change can be a positive aspect. Look at Brad’s story for example, many people viewed his Tourettes has a negative aspect, a disease many viewed as impossible to manage. However, Brad proved those people wrong by showing what he was capable of accomplishing with Tourettes syndrome. It is amazing and courageous for a person who has been through thick and thin to share his story with the world. He is not afraid or embarrassed by being rejected because of his disease. He fights for what he believes is right which is how all people should act. Brad is also right when he states that it is the teacher that needs changing. As adults we witness the fact that the world is changing at a rapid pace, therefore we must keep up with it to the best of our abilities. As teachers, we must have that self efficacy to keep our spirits high and motivation continuous.

  9. Krystal Ryskamp Says:

    So many times in my life, I feel other people need to change when in fact, change starts with me. If we have the desire and passion to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and look change in the face, our world would be unstoppable. Change starts when a few people go against the flow of the norm standards of this world, not caring about what the world may throw back at you. Kids need these role models of how change can be possible, and I agree it must start with us. But how can this be changed? Personally, teaching needs to come from the heart and overflow to our students. If they see how excited we are about life, they will notice and will want what we have…which is an undying passion to produce change in this dead and monotonous life.

  10. Jori Dotson Says:

    I agree with Brad that change is a very important part of the classroom. It is important for teachers to remember that everything they do is for the good of the students. We want to be teachers so that we can make a difference in students lives and make sure that they are learning to the best of their ability. It is very important that teachers listen and understand everything that everyone has to say to them. A teacher never knows everything and there is always room to learn. By listening to our students needs, you can become a better more affective teacher. I think that this article is important for every teacher to read and understand. Teachers need to be focused on the needs of their students and ready to make any changes that may be needed for the good of the students.

  11. Lisa Mock Says:

    I totally agree with this this article. Change is always for the good, when you change something you are trying to make it better, not worse. I think that this article shows how important it is to be a teacher and how when you need to you can change things and make it better. You do not have to do the same thing for 50 years you change it and make it more exciting and worthwhile.

  12. Annette Rounsaville Says:

    I also agree with this article with the saying that change is always for the good. Most of the time we may feel uncomfortable when the change is occuring but I dont think it is meant for us to feel good when we go through that stage. As we go through life and we experience different things, it is almost instantly that you can see the change within an individual. Also there are times when change is not so apparent and it takes much time and effort for someone to achieve their goals. I know being a born again Christian change is something that I am so used to because God is constantly making me a molding me into what he wants me to be. As I continue to grow, I try to take something from every experience that will help me while im on my cycle of change. As a teacher it is so important for you to be able to adapt to change within any given situation and learn to apply things so that you will be prepared when something else happens. I think God gave us variety for a reason, so that we can do things in order and learn how to do things differently. Its a good thing most of the time to add a little excitement to things. I once heard someone say, “variety is the spice of life!”

  13. Christy Atton Says:

    Every student is different and every classroom unique. Looking back on my education one major mistake made by some teachers was they expected all students to comply with their teaching style. We as teachers have the ability to create the best learning environment for each student. As brad stated,”Most teachers teach the same way they learn. That means we are probably not hitting 2/3 of our class in the most effective way.” I am becoming a teacher to help all my students succeed in and out of the classroom not just the ones who learn the same way I do. I agree with Laura, change needs to happen if teachers want all their students to succeed.

  14. Tania Anzaldi Says:

    What a great reminder that change is not a bad thing! Change can be a very good thing. I liked how he talked about how we teach the classroom according to how we learn. We definetly need to be aware that there are many different ways to learn not just yrou way. Keeping change in the environment i believe would also help keep the student more engaged. Students need structure yes but for children most of the time when you do something new and exciting they can usually adapt pretty well. I believe that not only as humans but as teachers we can always improve and change the way we do things. It is very important to listen to others because they might have come up with a better way of doing things or might have already researched a topic you are learning about. Society and standards change and as teachers we need to be will and ready to adjust to those changes but to also keep the students at the front of our minds. Great Article!

  15. Michael Parton Says:

    I’m glad to see that there is someone out there who is not afraid to challenge those teachers that have been around and seem to get stuck in their ways. That is how it was for me when I went through grade school. I completely agree with this article. It is never too late to change and it is always important to never forget why we want to be teachers. In having discussions with professors who have been teaching for a long time, I have found that it is very important to realize that not everyone thinks the same. That means that we do need to know how to re-state an idea so that we are reaching those learners who do think differently. The thing that I enjoy most about this article is that fact of listening. The way that it is put in this article makes us remember that input from outside sources is not to put us down or tell us we are not doing a good job. It is constructive criticism to help us become better educators. We need to remember that no matter how long we do something, there may always be someone who has a trick up their sleeve that we never knew about and it can help us. We don’t need to be afraid to listen.

  16. Nick Gierman Says:

    I think change is a great thing yet at the same time, it can be a scary thing. As a future educator, I am learning more about myself daily. I feel that I have changed in the last few years, as I never thought I would go into education as a career. Listening to others is a great concept. At times, I have felt that teachers never listened to the students. They have just seemed to go about their daily business and go home. It is my hope that I will inspire my students to want to learn more and want to come to school. I believe that a lot of teachers have the intention of making a difference in their students’ lives, but how can they do that if they don’t listen to their students. Listening isn’t just hearing though. Teachers need to be attentive to how their students respond to teaching methods too. As Mr. Cohen stated, if your teaching methods are only reaching a small percentage of the class, you are not being an effective teacher and something needs to change.
    But it is not just the students that teachers should pay attention to. We need to learn from our colleagues, parents, and administrators in order to provide a positive change in our students’ education. In order to do this, we must first realize that we as teachers may have to change our style and come out of our comfort zone to positively impact our students.

  17. Amber Slenk Says:

    Again, it’s been said that this is a great reminder for teachers, and it truly is! There’s also a hope in this article that is wonderful to hear. Unfortunately, teachers can lose sight of what they truly want to do: to impact children and to change their lives for the better. I have seen it happen many times. Thankfully, that’s never the end of things. It’s never too late to step back, take time to go back to your original goal and consider the student’s lives instead of only their grades or attitudes. Change is difficult especially as we get older, but it’s also necessary to our call as teachers. With time comes change. I think that God calls us to embrace our kids throughout change. Impacting kids will last a lifetime no matter how teaching standards change.

  18. Anna Marquez Says:

    I agree with this article and I think that change in the classroom is a good thing, especially for teachers. Teachers must realize that change is not only a good thing, but it is a necessary thing. It is impossible to teach one class and then the next year teach the exact same curriculum same way. Students learn differently. Teachers need to realize that not all their students are going to learn the same way, and I liked in the article when he said not all students learn the same way as you do. I think that this is easy to forget, just because some students are getting it in five minutes other students may need a whole day, this is why change is necessary. It is also so important to listen. To listen to the students especially, this is key to their success as students and your success as teachers. You can’t just assume things with your students and in order to understand them you must listen. Listening is not only important with your students but it truly is important with each person that you come in contact with in your teaching profession.

  19. Don Malic Says:

    I agree with this article because it’s important for teachers to change and also listen to their students. People change because they want to make a situation better for themselves or other people. In the classroom, as a teacher you are going to have to change your styles of teaching for some students in order for them to understand the material. Also, students like when teachers change how they teach because it makes it more interesting for students and exciting. Nobody likes when teachers teach the same way everyday. It’s BORING! Also, all teachers want to make a difference in their students lives and want to see their students succeed in life.

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"Brad Cohen is a walking billboard for the idea of living positively. He is like a cold drink on a hot day--refreshing, energizing, and likely to put a smile on your face."
Tim Shriver - Chairman of Special Olympics

"I have observed the magic of Brad Cohen in the classroom. He has turned Tourette Syndrome into an asset, and his life into inspiration."
Senator Johnny Isakson, Georgia

"Brad Cohen's story is a triumph of hope, determination, will and relentless good humor."
Peter J. Hollenbeck, Ph.D., Professor and
Associate Head of Biological Sciences,
Purdue University

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