Institute 2.0: A 2012 gets an Institute re-do

This post was originally published on TeacherPop.

Pollock Painting
Is your institute experience like a Pollock painting? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I finished institute last summer, I knew I’d be working at institute the first opportunity I got. That electric environment was calling my name, even as I swore I was so over it.

There’s something in the air around institute. Maybe it’s the fear excitement of the new CMs, or the supreme knowledge of the veteran faculty advisors and seasoned Institute staff. Or the feeling of community that can be fostered in the copy center at 11:48 p.m. (You know, the early crowd.)

That said, the biggest downfall I found in Institute was the sheer amount of things that were thrown at me. If I could remember half of what I was told, I’d be the world’s greatest teacher.

As a 2012 CM, institute felt like paining a house with a paintball gun. It can be a messy process, and some bruises are inevitable when you misfire. Some of the paintballs added a splash of behavior management or curriculum development to my teaching ability. Others just left painful welts after a critical observation went awry.

Gallantly, I tried to soldier on as knowledge washed over me, and I tired from the game. Eventually, I hit the finish line, feeling like a more fully-realized portrait of a teacher, albeit slightly bruised.

As I train to be a SOM (School Operations Manager) for Tulsa Institute,  I get a re-do at learning many of the things that I missed or forgot. Sure, I have a lot of stuff to offer. I’m crazy organized and have a knack for making signage. But I also have tons, tons, tons to learn from entering CMs, my co-workers and faculty and staff at my placement school. I can think of no other environment that pulls so many smart, passionate people to work on creating educational equity.

My first institute was a fun, messy whirlwind that involved too many Hot Cheetos and lots of hot tea. For those of you going to your first Institute, I pass on the advice that I was given: Embrace the crazy.

As the intro to your pre-work reminds you: this work is sometimes messy. Let yourself be the canvas, and don’t stress if you start feeling less like a Mondrian, and more like a Pollock.

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