Saturday, March 24, 2018
I tried something interesting this week. While teaching, I looked for me in my students. I looked for the student that was me when I was in 7th grade. I am extremely reflective and I thought it would be fun and interesting to do a silent study on the student that is most like me (according to my perspective and memory as possible).
When I figured out which of my 171 students was me, I paid very close attention to the ways in which this student learns, behaves, emotes, and work ethic.
This is only the first week. This is an ongoing experiment. And...Observation.
This is what I am noticing so far:
This student cares about grades.
This student looks for approval.
This student prefers silent work.
This student prefers independent work.
What do I hope to do with this research?
I want to know my learners better. If I can know them as I know myself, and pay attention to differences, I should be able to best reach all of my learners.
Friday, March 23, 2018
During this time of year, I start reflecting on what I did well and what I might change for next year. I look around my classroom and reflectively assess myself through my students.
I am always amazed at this time of year. My students change so much during the course of a year. One of the most interesting part about teaching Middle School. The students change physically, emotionally, academically, and socially. They are different beings by the end of the year.
My 7th graders no longer look or act like little kids, the little kids that started the year.
My 8th graders look like young adults. They look and act more mature, ready to take on the world.
The amazing part is that I get to witness this every year.
The even more amazing part of this is that I get to be a part of their growth. I get to know them while this process is in full swing.
This is also quite a responsibility. We, as teachers, cannot take for granted the massive and essential impact that we have on these growing humans. We are their influence. Sometimes, there most significant influence. We must take this seriously, but we also must enjoy it.
It is who we are. We are educators. We are teachers.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
A few days ago, I got an email from a past student. She explained that she is finishing her student teaching and is excited to begin her teaching career.
I had not heard from her in a few years. I had no idea that she wanted to be a teacher. When I asked her how and why she decided to go into teaching, she responded,
"You were such an amazing teacher. You showed joy in what you did everyday. I had forgotten that this was a job for you when I had you. You made it seem like this was just you doing what it is that you were meant to do. You cared for your students like no other teacher that I have ever had. You taught us about social studies in a way that made us look at the world more critically. Most importantly, you taught us about life. You taught us to accept ourselves and be happy with who we were."
Needless to say, this was another day of happy tears and appreciation.
Being a teacher isn't a job. Being a teacher allows us to be so much for and to our students. I make joke around a lot in class, but I take my intentions very seriously!
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
A student does or says something that makes you tear up.
Out of the blue, today, I had a student complement me at just the right time, in just the right way...
That made me tear up, and feel like I was exactly where I needed to be.
I love that teaching gives us those little surprises. The gratification is so full. Being a teacher is so much more than a vocation or job. It is more than a career or even a calling. Teaching is a commitment of magic.
Today, and most days...I am proud to be a teacher.
During this time as many of us, teachers, are waiting not-so patiently for Spring Break-
Know that every minute being a teacher is magic...even if you are not watching for it, it is there!!!
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Today, we had a Teachers Institute Day due to it being a voting day and our schools are polling places. We had a timely morning meeting with a guest speaker about Toxic Trauma, which I will be writing a lot about in the near future...I am sure!
I am a strong advocate for Social Emotional Learning, or SEL. Especially in Middle School.
The speaker played a clip from a video where a young elementary students said that having SEL made her brain happy...and that allowed her to want to learn.
This made me smile and sad at the same time.
We spend so much time teaching to tests, standards, curriculum, frameworks, programs, Lexile, and every other data point that the most important data point is often ignored...the Whole Child.
I will admit, happily, that I innately focus on the wellness and care of my kids. My students are listened to, cared for, and are at the center of my attention. But still, I am leaning more and more towards the "stuff" than the student. '
I am not okay with this.
It is time to go back to the authentic caring me. Once that is in place...I strongly believe learning will happen naturally in my classes. We have to start with the heart before we can reach the mind.
Monday, March 19, 2018
As I was doing some writing earlier today, I came upon a question for myself.
How do my students define success?
More importantly, how do they define their own success?
As teachers, we traditionally tell or demonstrate what success looks like at each grade level. We set bars. We set Lexile levels. We set grades. We set cut scores. We define success. (for our class)
But what does success look like or feel like for my students?
I recall a conversation that I had with a parent of one of my students last month. She told me that success for her son is straight Cs in all of his classes. Even though he is in the 7th grade, she wants him to hold on to his youth. She would rather he play and enjoy life than spend time getting good grades. For now- his mother has defined what success is for him.
Most of my 7th and 8th grade students actually do define what success is for them.
My honors students have high standards. They push themselves on all data points to be the best that they can be. They are well aware of where they are and what it means.
My students that have various struggles with learning wait for their teachers to assign the definition of success.
I know that I am early for next school year, but I have plans on being more intentional about having my students consider what success is for them. Maybe within this reflection, some of my students will make intentional choices of their own...towards success.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
Those of you who know me, or read anything that I write know that I love to dwell in the "what-ifs" of life. As I was writing earlier today, I caught myself in a What-if.
What if we, as teachers, had the capacity to bring such clarity to our students that they could see themselves as older people? With the reflective sense to look back and see the significance of their earlier education...
Our students would be able to see the value in what they were doing in school now. They would see and feel the importance of the academic side of school as well as the personal growth side.
Our students would make decisions based on what they wanted to change or make better in life.
I am sure that anyone who thinks about this, as I am doing, would be able to reflect on their school years and come up with a list of things that they would do differently. For me, there is a grocery list of things. I am talking groceries for a year.
But, in retrospect, would I really want to change anything?
I like the way that my life turned out.
I made changes along the way to make me who I am today.
I am still making changes everyday.
So maybe this lesson for myself is that is there is no reason for this what-if. We are who we are. Make the best of it...change what you want...Be who you want.