Writing a Perspective

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Around this time of year, the dreaded New Year's resolution is a distant memory. I know this because, for the past three years, I have made the exact same resolution. And, for three straight years, it is around this time that I give up. My resolution has been exactly this; to write and submit a Perspective to KQED.

The many dreamed-up but never actually-written-down Perspectives are a time capsule tracking my experiences as a new educator. I first planned to write about how my third graders' bickering sounded painfully similar to how our elected officials "debate," then about how an 8-year-old's interpretation of "Charlotte's Web" made me weep like a baby, and finally about the irony of sitting still in desks during grad school while our professors lectured on the importance of movement in 21st century classrooms.

When I struggled to actually put these ideas to paper, though, all the advice I received followed the same underlying theme: Just do it, already! Block off time, the blogs and my neighbors advised, and just write. But the problem with a mindless focus on "doing" is that something always tends to come up -- a phone call or a more important errand. Before I knew it, my New Year's resolution shriveled up alongside the calendar month of January.

And then on one unspectacular day recently something shifted. A simple belief came into focus right above my dashboard: Hey, I think I can do this! I realized that, simmering right beneath the past three years of procrastination and blank pieces of paper was a fundamental belief that I couldn't pull it off. Forcing myself to reconsider that belief unlocked my ability to start writing.

I am realizing that a well-known saying in education is ringing true for my own resolutions: to change student actions, you must first change their beliefs.


And so...finally...

With a Perspective, this is Caroline Kusin Pritchard.

Caroline Kusin Pritchard works for an education reform commission in San Francisco and lives in Palo Alto.