We began this journey as a family of 3 in a small bungalow that was once my grandparents' home. It was familiar and big enough for us, but it had its limitations and drawbacks too. We dreamed of more closets, space to stretch out and live in, and of course at least one more bathroom. But we made do and lived there quite happily for several years before we added another kid to the mix and decided it was time for change. Once we took that first step, we have truly enjoyed what we have and where we are, but we are also continually looking at ways to make our home even better. Once the attitude of improvement gets in your blood, it's hard to not look for ways to make things better.
Our building and remodeling project was the talk of the community for a long time (partially because it took a long time to finish). It was exciting to see something familiar transformed into something new. We also turned my grandparents' old farm house into a log house, which also created interest because no one else had done that before. Now if you drive past our house to the east, and look within our community, there are several houses that have a similar look.
Over the years, in anticipation of this large remodeling process, we found "the look" we wanted, and put a great deal of time and effort into finding the best ways to arrange the floor plan, support the existing structure, and meet our goals of increased living and storage space. Of course that had to be done in an affordable way and utilize the resources that we had available. Most of the time we could rely on our own abilities, but sometimes we had to ask for help. Change comes with a price and sometimes that price is simply the expertise (or strong back) of others.
As we worked through the remodeling process, we didn't stop living in the house! We moved from one area to another; covered up the demolition with plastic floor-to-ceiling curtains, and encouraged people to come visit us, unapologetically, during our mess. When ideas were put into action, we evaluated them to see if they really would lead us to our goals. Sometimes we revised them; sometimes we removed them. When we were tired, we rested for a moment, but ultimately, kept moving forward. It would have been so easy, many times in fact, to just stop what we were doing and say, "it's good enough." But we knew we could do better and we pushed ahead, because, as I used to tell my players and students, good is not good enough when better is possible.
Even now, many years after the project was technically "finished," we are really never done. We have worked on the landscaping, repaired the roof (thank you hail!), repainted inside, and continue to regularly stain the exterior as well. New ideas come to mind, so we contemplate what new counter tops would look like or how much a butler's pantry would improve the functionality of the kitchen utilizing some space that isn't really used as much as we once thought it would be. We look for ways to be more energy efficient to reduce costs and leave a smaller footprint. We still wish for more closet space (although we have plenty of bathrooms now!) so does that mean that goal was never realized, or is it time to cull some dated items from our closets?
I think about this entire process in terms of education too. We are often comfortable in classroom or school. We make do, even though better is possible. We know change is messy and uncomfortable so we keep doing what we've always done. But once we make that first change, and we see the transformation that will lead us to new and better ways of teaching and learning, it's hard to stop. The excitement of a building (or improvement) project breathes new life into what used to be routine. When we learn new ways to plan and teach, we have to assess them for effectiveness as it pertains to the goal of improving student understanding. We often need help, and asking for that help or knowing where to find it is a challenge. Additionally, we have to stay within our budget, as well as look for ways to let go of some of the things we've always done so we don't run out of space in our teaching tool bag (or take away from the limited time we have). And lastly it is important to recognize that schools don't stop having school during the change process. We keep teaching and students keep learning while we are putting in new systems designed to improve our effectiveness. When we do dismiss students for a day for teacher work days or professional development, it is an opportunity for those constructing the change to learn, assess, and revise so they can continue to improve and move forward, transforming what was into what it can be.
So take the time on this #throwbackthursday to reflect on and appreciate where you've been, but take those lessons and look forward to bigger and better things. Life is a series of significant moments and experiences that shape our todays and tomorrows.
Maybe #throwbackthursday should really be #transformationthursday!