And then we hit week 4.
And I'm suddenly aware of how much less I can actually do than I wanted and planned to do. And that silences me.
So I stop blogging, just in case someone can read in between the lines at how much I'm failing.
I stop going on Twitter, just in case someone asks me how things are going and I have to tell the truth.
Colleagues stop me in the hallway, and I tell them that "I'm fine" - which is a total lie. Because I can't tell them the truth: I'm afraid that what I'm doing isn't good enough.
I start hiding.
I ignore the evidence that learning is happening and that students are making connections between what we're doing and what I want them to learn. I ignore the opinion of the person who knows my classroom and curriculum better than I do and believes in me far more than I believe in me. I ignore the parents who left my room on Back to School Night telling me how "inspired" they felt and how "exciting" it was to hear about flipped class and blank white page and all the other amazing things we're doing.
I ignore all of that. Because the voice in my head keeps telling me it's Not. Good. Enough. And that voice turns into a chorus of every bad experience from my eight previous years in the classroom - from overbearing principals, to judgemental colleagues, to critical students.
That's The Narrative. The voice in my head that repeats every negative thing anyone has said about me, my classroom, and my educational beliefs. The voice of colleagues who never ran out of things to complain about. The voice of administrators who just didn't get what I was doing.
The Narrative says that I'm failing. And for eight years, I had no idea how to stop it.
But now I do.
Now, I don't think a reflective teacher can ever stop believing The Narrative entirely, because it comes with wanting to do a great job and knowing that it is impossible. The classroom has too many variables, there is too little time, and there is always too much we want to do. We want to change the lives of our students. We want to make a difference.
And we do.
But life change doesn't happen overnight. It's a series of small decisions, small actions, small words. And when we show up every day and put our heart and effort and time into teaching our students everything we can, we change their lives...in small increments. Trust and community are not built overnight, and no amount of wishing or planning can make them appear.
The only thing that can build trust and community is love. Love for our students, love for our curriculum, and love for our profession. It is the only thing that can change anything.
Love is the only thing that can stop The Narrative.
I know that sounds a little like I'm singing Kumbyah while holding hands with fairies and dancing around Stonehenge.
And frankly, I don't care.
Love is wanting your friends and colleagues to succeed so much that it's more important than your own success. And paradoxically, having so many people to root for has made me more successful as a teacher than ever before. And with that many people cheering for me, I can't hide.
Having so many people on my team means that it's impossible to let The Narrative win.
I have colleagues at Redwood who check in on me to make sure I'm okay. Before Back to School Night, I had over half the department come to see me to give me advice and see if I needed any help.
I have students who work hard and make me want to work even harder. Who write about the tragedies that shaped them in a completely open and honest way. Who can't quite believe that I really mean what I say about there being "no anxiety" in my classroom.
I have administrators who go out of their way to understand what I'm doing and support me so I can continue to do my job.
I have friends in the #flipclass community who give me advice, send me resources, and offer support when I need it.
And best of all, I'm team-teaching with Andrew Thomasson, and he won't let me fail. He also knows me well enough to see when I'm letting The Narrative take over a little too much and he Won't Let The Narrative Win. The impact Andrew has had on my classroom and my life is a little ridiculous. It's been postulated in the #flipclass community that we may even be the same person.
I can't help but be overwhelmed to have so much support, especially in a profession where isolation is just the accepted reality. I have never had so many people cheering for me. All of those things are small decisions that people make, and that adds up to a transformation in who I am as a teacher, as well as how much power The Narrative has over me.
When you have that many people who care about you, it's impossible to close your door and pray that no one notices how much you're failing.
So it's time to Flip The Narrative:
You can't do this alone. And when you're not alone, and you have people who love you and root for you, you can't fail. And when it feels like you are ready to give up and shut up and admit defeat, you look at all the small decisions people have made to show how much they care. And that's enough to keep going.
In the Flipped Narrative, we all win:
Our students get the best version of us we have.
Our colleagues get the passion and excitement we have for our classroom.
Our PLN gets more resources, more support, and more of us.
And we get people to help us recognise all the small decisions we make every day, and how those decisions are a far better measure of our success than The Narrative would like us to believe.
So flipping my classroom really has changed my life...in small increments.
And it's Not Over Yet.