What if I go back?

I’m overjoyed to be in the classroom again!

When I share what my next steps are in my work, I’ve noticed that people automatically say:

“Oh, you’re going back to the classroom.”




Yes, I am going back, physically, but something about this common reaction bothers me. I searched for reasons why I’ve been wincing and squinting when someone says this.

So far in my fixation on this phrase I’ve narrowed my triggers down to a set of flawed assumptions that may guide the reaction that is, “Oh you’re going back!

  1. Once you leave, you don’t go back or look back. 
  2. Going back is going backwards
  3. Going back is defeat


Here’s some of the ways I’ve reframed these assumptions:

  1. Once I left, going back became a responsibility. When I left and went beyond the walls of my classroom, district, province, and  country, I gained perspective. Perspective that came with a multi-directional sharing of values, ideas, and stories. Going back to live and interact with an informed perspective allows me and learners to explore changes in a genuine context – will what we come to theorize after being out of the classroom for a few years actually have an impact in our classrooms of the future? Or are they so far-fetched, sanitary, and mechanical that we’ve lost the spirit of why we went to gain perspective in the first place? On the other hand, if we don’t leave our bubble to build on each others’ perspectives, we deprive our learners from worldviews that are beyond the reach of our microcosm.
  2. Going backwards is a choice. 
  3. Going back means our community can grow. The CSL community in the last two years has been built on grassroots sharing, conversations, and to be honest – loads of invitational fun. Holistic learning is hardly accomplished by giving learners (this includes students and teachers) a set of instructions to do in class – it was difficult at the beginning to rationalize why creating templates, reproducibles, and worksheets did nothing for improving our work with communicating student learning and all to do with avoiding conflict and checking off a hypothetical box. The community we have gathered continues to grow as we invite each other into conversations, into our classrooms, and into our struggles. We have moved beyond consuming (sit and get/watch) each others’ ideas – and now we can interact, question, challenge, and explore with our growing community. The invitation is always open.


I’m proud of my choice to go back. I am grateful for the refreshed lens and advocacy of new ideas regarding all aspects of professional learning inspired by Dr. Elisa Carlson. I’m touched by the ongoing support from my colleagues in and out of our district. The advocacy and confidence in ideas would not have come without the support from helping teachers and classroom teachers/administrators in schools that leapt with me.

I need to go back to live and learn in the moment, on a daily basis, with students to build relationships and inform my next journey towards an authentic practice. This is the real world.



And Rose, I promise to blog more.

3 thoughts on “What if I go back?

  1. Such a life-long learner, you are … Kudos to you, Joe … recognizing who you are, who you want to be and taking the steps to make that happen. I applaud you for making your learning visible and being declarative about it. I know that you will invest your last 2 years of learning into the classroom and continue to expand your world! Miss you!!! Hugs!

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