Changing “Perspectives”

Perspective. This is a word that I’ve thought about a lot this week. Last night, I was lucky enough to be involved in the Kindergarten Orientation at my new school for September. As I was asked to introduce myself and share about my teaching experiences, I realized that next year will be my tenth year teaching Kindergarten. While it’s only my second year teaching it as part of the Full-Day Kindergarten Program — and while I’ve taught it at many schools with many different grades in between — it’s still my tenth year. And 10 is a big number. Or, at least it seems like a big number until I hear from people that have taught it longer — like 15 or 20 years. Perspective.

I have to share a look at our classroom, which was so very exciting to see on Monday night!

It’s as I think back over those 10 years that I gain more perspective. I think back to my most challenging students when I started teaching. 

  • One child wouldn’t sit on the carpet. He never came. I sang. I called him over. I demanded that he come. And now I’d probably ask why does it matter? Is carpet time really the best option anyway (or the best option for all students)? When he wouldn’t come, what was he doing? What was he telling me that he needed? What could I have done differently?
  • Another child threw toys. They were usually small toys — often plastic cars. Sometimes he threw them at his friend. Sometimes he threw them at me. I never tried to find out “why” he did this. I only knew that the rule was “don’t throw,” so he was expected not to throw. I wish that I took the time to find out “why.”
  • One child refused to colour the pumpkin the right colour. It was supposed to be orange … not green and blue and red combined. And the whole pumpkin was supposed to be coloured properly. I could not understand why she just drew lines of colour throughout. I remember meeting with her mom and talking about my concerns. I remember figuring out next steps for “following rules” and developing the “fine motor skills necessary for this type of colouring.” Now I’d question why I even did these worksheets in the first place, and if they met the needs of any of the students. What could I have done instead?

Problems change. How we interpret them also varies. And with each new experience that we have, some of our problems from before, don’t seem so big anymore. Perspective.

In 15 years, I’ve taught at six different schools: from inner-city Hamilton to the west-end mountain area, and everything in between.

  • I’ve taught students with autism.
  • I’ve taught students with Down Syndrome.
  • I’ve taught students with developmental disabilities.
  • I’ve taught students with learning disabilities.
  • I’ve taught students that are gifted.
  • I’ve taught students that are English Language Learners … including students that have learnt their first words of English in our classroom (an incredible experience).
  • I’ve taught students that come from wealthy backgrounds.
  • I’ve taught students that live in extreme poverty.

For a while, I taught different grades at the same school and I had many of the experiences in these grades that I listed above. I thought that these different grades gave me perspective, and then I had some new experiences and my perspective changed again. 

  • I realize now that I had to move schools to see things differently.
  • I realize now that each new experience that I have changes how I view future ones.
  • I realize now that “kids are kids,” but they are not the same kids, and maybe we need the varied experiences to continue to have some important “perspective.”

What do you think? How do you gain perspective, and how does this perspective impact on your teaching practices? I know that while in a couple of weeks, I will be leaving Dr. Davey, my “Dr. Davey perspective” will continue to stay with me — along with the many other “school perspectives” that I’ve acquired over the years — and I’m interested in seeing the impact that this has on my Rousseau teaching experience. Rousseau will give me a new perspective too, and for that, I’m also very grateful! 


6 thoughts on “Changing “Perspectives”

  1. Wow you have such an incredible repertoire of experience. I too at times wished I had approached situations differently in hindsight. I once wrote about regrets and do overs and realized I could only go from there and move on. Your ability to look honestly at your work makes you the dedicated and valued teacher that you are. I wrote yesterday about my “What Ifs”

    • Thank you so much got your comment, Faige, and for sharing the link to your post! I’m eager to read it. Your comment about regrets and do-overs is so true. I think that it’s with our new perspectives (and really the repertoire of experiences that we’re had since then), that we don’t just move on from these experiences, but learn ways about how to respond differently when faced with new — and sometimes similar — experiences.

      It was actually as I was tweeting you back that I had another aha moment. Our perspective also changes thanks to our PLN. It’s when I read about experiences from educators on Twitter and educators who blog, that I also see things differently. This online sharing is so important, for once again, I think it helps put things in “perspective.” I’m curious to hear what people think about this.


  2. Aviva,

    Reading your perspective is always inspiring!

    I too have learned over the years in many positions and different occupations, that perspective matters. Taking time to reflect on the process is key to growing as a professional.

    I too value my online PLN and know that I will be reaching out for help next year as I transition from my current role (which is no longer being funded) back into the classroom. I will take with me the student work study perspective of approaching student learning and that will forever change my practice. I am excited about the new start teaching grade 5/6 and am hopeful that my perspective on learning will benefit my students. I am also hopeful that I will find a little more time next year to blog about my experiences, so that others can assist me in my reflective process.

    Thanks for the reminder that all we see really is about the perspective we take!


    • Thanks for the comment, Sarah! I think that this reflection piece is key, and maybe it’s the time that we take reflecting — and really thinking deeply about our experiences and our learning from these experiences — that allow us to gain some different perspectives. I’m sure that your “work study perspective” will definitely impact on your future teaching experiences, including your one next year in Grades 5/6. What a lucky group of students! I do hope that you blog (and share) about your new experiences. Enjoy the rest of this school year, and all the best next year in your new position! I’m glad to have you as a part of my PLN, and I know that your perspective (often offered through the comments on my blog posts) have helped me gain some perspective too.


  3. Aviva,
    I love how reflective you are–always–but especially in this post. I agree with you that when we move on we bring those perspectives and those experiences with us and they allow us to react differently. It will be 20 years for me, (yikes) and as I embark on a new journey as well, this post really resonates. Here’s to change, which in the words of my pal George Couros is the opportunity to do something amazing!! Looking forward to reading about your journey. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, Jennifer! I know that you’ll be bringing a lot of wonderful experiences (and perspectives) to your new position, and I wish you the very best of luck. I really like how George describes “change.” I’m a big believer in the value of change … and maybe it’s all of our past experiences and “perspectives” that allow us to do “something amazing” in our new positions.

      I’m excited to read about your new journey as well! Enjoy the rest of the school year!

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