Dec 8 2014

keeping perspective

Today I had a conversation with my teaching partner. Chatting about things we want to do with our students, what we want to do differently and what we want to improve on.

Self-reflection is crucial in education; I would go so far as to say it’s the most important skill an educator can have. There are always ways we can improve our practice. At BIT13 last year, there was a presentation with the perfect title: It’s alright to be where you are but it’s not alright to stay there. As educators, we are constantly trying to find more effective ways to do everything. Moving forward.

I’m wondering if constant reflection can be overwhelming. On Twitter, there’s a neverending feed of wonderful pedagogy. At school, just walking down the hallway and seeing others teach can be difficult. That critical little voice that says “I’m not doing that….am I a good teacher?”

Where is the line between self-reflection and self-judgment (and self-doubt)?  Will I ever measure up? Do I have to measure up? It’s such a huge responsibility I’ve been trusted with. How can “good enough” be good enough?

Through this conversation with my teaching partner, this came to light: we can’t be all things to all people, and as long as we have set some specific goals to improve, that’s good. If we try to change/improve too many things at once, the progress is watered down, and we don’t see the successes clearly, if at all.

The crucial lesson: keep perspective.  Do what you can, and don’t dwell on what you can’t.

Dec 5 2014

the crux of empathy and engagement

It’s been a full year so far.

Our school is part of HWDSB’s TLE initiative, and there is a steep learning curve for everyone involved. Lots of brain work: learning, analyzing, considering, problem-solving. Thinking critically about how to integrate technology and inquiry into our classroom effectively. Mentally challenging, and, at times, taxing.

New administrators and new expectations came this year as well. Not good or bad, just different. Of course, I also have a classroom full of students I’ve never taught before. And, a new teaching partner.

Change can be hard. It’s challenging. Although embracing change leads to growth, it can be exhausting.

Having all this change at once, one would not fault me if I took it easy this year. Maybe not spend as much time planning. Lower my expectations.  Give textbooks to work from. The thought does cross my mind….I’m tired.

But I can’t do it. There are many reasons why, based on professionalism, ethics and personality (ask all my teaching partners, I’m a hummingbird!). But they all revolve around one key question:

Would I want to be a student in my classroom?

I ask myself this every minute of the day. Most of the time, the answer is yes. I do admit that occasionally, the answer is no. It’s usually when I’m doing some sort of formal assessment I need to do that isn’t enjoyable for students (“Hey everyone…it’s time for DRA!!” “Yaaaaaay!!!”).

It’s such a valuable question to ask. And it’s why I try to make sure my students are engaged, challenged, respected, happy. I want to feel, at the end of the day, that I would love to be in my class.

Would you want to be a student in your class?