I do not normally reblog other people’s work here, but I really like this article and had to share it! We need to view our students as creative and teach them how to use that creativity. They will learn content while being creative…we just have to trust the process. Please give this a read if you have the time!
You are awesome! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
Originally posted on Imagineer7's Weblog:
In school, we learn about geniuses and their ideas, but how did they get those ideas? What are the mental processes, attitudes, work habits, behaviors, and beliefs that enable creative geniuses to view the same things as the rest of us, yet see something different?
The following are seven principles that I’ve learned during my lifetime of work in the field of creative thinking — things that I wish I’d been taught as a student.
- You Are Creative
Artists are not special, but each of us is a special kind of artist who enters the world as a creative and spontaneous thinker. While creative people believe they are creative, those who don’t hold that belief are not. After acquiring beliefs about their identity, creative people become interested in expressing themselves, so they learn thinking habits and techniques that creative geniuses have used throughout history.
- Creative Thinking Is Work
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Can you tell that I have been on a #morethanscore kick? I just feel like it is an important message to get out right now. Please join me in spreading the word. Share the images and message here, or come up with your own. We have got to spread the word. Students, teachers, and education are more than scores!
You are so awesome! Keep spreading the word and keep on teaching, Teacher!
Following up from yesterday’s post and in the midst of all of the news about decisions being made about education on a national level, I think it is time to start a encouragement revolution! We need to encourage each other and our students to remember that we are more than scores, and we need to encourage the public and the powers-that-be that education is more than scores! We need to talk up the positive things happening in our classrooms and schools that are not tied to test scores.
That said, I am not sure if the hashtag has been used, but let’s make #morethanscores our battle cry. We have to remember it is more than numbers. It is more than what can be counted. It is the hearts and future of the children that we teach. It is the future of our country. It is the future of our world!
Please join me in reminding everyone that it is #morethanscores!
You are awesome! You are amazing! You are more than scores! Never stop teaching, Teacher!
I don’t know how your summer is going, but I have had quite a week. I have had great family time, presented at a conference, and got a good jump on something I am planning for next year. Overall, it has been a pretty exceptional week…but there is a heavy cloud hanging over me that I don’t know if I will shake for a while.
I found out how my students did on the state tests at the end of the year.
Needless to say, the scores were less than stellar.
Even though I thought that last year, by far, was my best as a teacher, the scores were lower than I think they have been for me. Their are A LOT of factors in play here…more than there have ever been in a year of teaching for me…but I can’t help but feel like I failed my students a bit.
Something tells me I am not the only one in this boat. Even if you don’t have your results back yet, I know you might be bracing yourself for the worse.
For this reason, I think it is time for a theme-song post.
I love these types of posts, and they always help me to gain perspective, and I hope it is the same for you. For those new to this blog, click play, get past any ads that might be there, and then read on while the music plays. You may want to go back and listen to the song and watch the video again after reading…I think I found the perfect song for today.
Let’s just start where it probably hurts the most…STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF!
You are a great teacher…nay, an amazing teacher.
Do not let the test scores make you think anything else.
You are bold and brave, and you care for your students like few others do.
You and I took risks this year.
We banked on what we know about our students, what we have learned about the learning process, and tried some outside of the box strategies. Our kids were engaged. They were learning. They were becoming better students and better people.
We were courageous in one thing more than others. We had the audacity to do something that seemed crazy in the high-stakes testing era…we didn’t focus on the test…we focused on each student.
We got to know each child in our classroom. We tried to find their strengths and weaknesses. We tried to accommodate every child and their needs, with or without a piece of paper that requires us to. We differentiated. We helped students to learn how to process content on their own. We slowly gave the reigns of their learning over to them so that they could be responsible for learning.
We laughed with them.
We cried with them.
We helped them grow.
We watched them change throughout the year.
We know more about them than a test will ever show. We saw students go from not wanting to try to begging for a chance to prove themselves. We saw students who hated school become students who couldn’t wait for Monday to come when Friday was over. We saw children become students and members of our school communities. We saw growth on almost every level. We saw magic.
We also saw the hurt that our students experience in and out of school. We saw the difficulties that they face at home. We saw pain. We saw hunger. We saw low self-esteem. We saw challenges for children that we could not even imagine. And we helped our students succeed despite all of this and helped them start to see how they can rise above it. Yes, I need to say it again…we saw magic.
There is not a test made that can prove how our students went from kids barely ready for the grade that we teach to being ahead of the game for the grade they are going into next year. There is not a test that takes into account the students that may have had to sleep at a friend’s house the night before the test or in a motel room because of something going on at home. There is not a test that can show how students finally came alive at the end of the year after you working with them for 3 1/2 quarters before you saw any growth.
There is not a test that proves the magic that we saw.
So, we did not focus on a test that does not show students overcoming obstacles in their lives. We focused on the child. We believed in them. We helped them strive in situations where everything was stacked against them. We made magic happen…and that is hard to do while teaching to a test.
We made a conscientious decision to think about our students as more than numbers. We decided that we want the students to know how to learn on their own and not need us there to help them after they leave our room. We decided to take into account what they may me going through in life. We decided to dig in and not give up on students that gave up on themselves. We decided to believe in something bigger than ourselves and trust in the magic that can happen in our classrooms.
Is that wrong?
Are we wrong?
Am I wrong?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I can think of living in a world, especially educational world, where this is wrong. I chose to believe in my students and believe in educational magic.
So the test scores were not great. Is that what really matters? What can you look to that proves that there was more going on in your classroom than can be judged by the test?
Here is a test for you…with results to change your mood after learning about your state results:
- Who is that student that was your your class that could not do anything on grade level and refused to try that ended the year trying their hardest just because you asked them to and they know you care?
- Who is that student that you know had a rough go of it at home, but looked to your classroom as a sanctuary?
- How did the atmosphere of the student interactions in your room change from being kids in your class to a classroom family?
- How did each student you teach change from day 1 to day 180?
- How did you grow as a teacher from day 1 to day 180?
Take some time and think through these questions. Write down your answers if you journal. I think that, if you do, you will start thinking less about your state scores (good or bad) and know how well you taught based on your students. After all, aren’t they the reason that you are there?
You are not wrong, Teacher, and you are awesome! Keep on believing your students matter more than scores. I believe in you as you keep believing in them! Keep on teaching, Teacher, and keep on making that magic happen!
So, you had a rough year last year? I hear you. I was there, too. The word “challenge” barely covers it. It was quite a mix of difficulties all wrapped up into one not-so-glorious year.
But I survived.
And you survived.
And now that we have settled into summer a bit, it is time to do one last difficult thing related to last year…reflect.
Reflection is the key to growth and change as a teacher…especially after a tough class period, day, quarter, or year. When we reflect, we take stock of what went right and wrong, what we need to change for the better, and what we can let go of. The process can be painstaking, but it is therapeutic…and more than that, it is vital to making next year better.
As I was working through my own mental system of reflection today, I thought of a new approach to reflecting, but before I tell you about it, I need to tell you a story from this morning. I need to tell you about breakfast.
It all starts with muffins…
I do my wife a favor in the mornings when I can and get our boys going. This includes breakfast.
This morning, I decided to do a secondary favor. We had some overripe bananas and she talked about making banana bread yesterday. I had an epiphany…I can make banana muffins for breakfast! So, I looked up some recipes.
There was a problem, however.
As it seems, you need certain ingredients to make said banana muffins…not all of which were present in our cupboards. We had most of the staple products, but since today was shopping day some were missing.
You don’t know me that well, but if you did you would know that once I get an idea in my head to do something I do not give up easily. So, I pushed on. I know some recipe replacements, and I thought I knew enough to guess some others.
It was rough, but I was able to get something together that resembled batter…and I poured into the muffin tins and baked.
I had to keep adding a few minutes of time in the oven, but eventually they looked a lot like muffins.
I took them out. I tried one…
Honestly, they were not the worse muffins I have ever had, and if you added butter they were not too bad. They weren’t the best, but they were my muffins…and they would pass as breakfast.
So…what the heck does this have to do with teaching and reflecting?
Every year, we start of with some pretty high goals for our students and ourselves. We know that we have the basics that we come in with as teachers, but sometimes the ingredients in our classroom are not what we expected. We do our best with what we have and we strive towards those goals.
We have to alternate plans.
We have to do things a little different than “the norm.”
We have to compromise.
We have to make do.
But in the end, though our results may not be exactly what we hoped for, we still have results. Sometimes “kind of” results are okay. We did what we could with the resources at hand, our skills, and some ingenuity.
They may not be the best results, but they are our results.
As we reflect, we need to look at how everything went and see the positive in what we had at the end. Sometimes that can be more difficult than others that like to judge education will ever know, but they were not in our classroom and do not know our students.
Sometimes edible muffins are the best you can do with baking…and sometimes students getting through the year know more than when they started and able to learn more on their own than before are giant strides for the situation you are giving.
And that brings us to the looking forward side of reflection…this is where my new approach to reflection comes in…
You have got to take a good, long look at your “teaching pantry.” Ask yourself these hard questions and make a PANTRY LIST:
- What really went well last year that you can go into the new year armed with?
- What are your strengths as a teacher?
- What strategies vibe up well with your teaching personality?
- What is the upside to that teaching personality?
- How do you connect with students best (both inside and outside of the content)?
- What are your best improvs as a teacher?
These are the things currently in your pantry. This is what you bring to the table. These are what you can bank on being a part of you.
On the other side, you need to ask some harder questions and add these to your PANTRY SHOPPING LIST:
- What did not go well last year that shows a skill that you may be lacking?
- What is an aspect of teaching that is a weakness that is vital that you work on?
- What is something that you would like to learn from a teacher you think is a great teacher?
- What are ways that you know your classroom atmosphere needs to change?
- What are some ways that you do not connect well with students?
- What are your worst improvs as a teacher?
These are the things that you can work on this summer. DO NOT MAKE THE SHOPPING LIST LONG! Small steps get you in the right direction. Do not think of these things as what you are bad at…think of them as things you would like in your teaching pantry. Spend some time this summer making a “supply run.” Pick something to read a book about. Attend a PD session over the summer. Find a teacher good at one of these things, buy her/him lunch or coffee, and pick their brain. Make a plan for getting some new ingredients in the cupboard. And don’t forget to rest!
I hope that this made sense!
What is in your teacher pantry? What do you need to go shopping for? Share here and perhaps we can all help you find some resources,
Teacher, you are amazingly awesome! I bet you already reflect on this level and I am preaching to the choir. If not, please don’t give up. Your students and all of the other teachers need you! You are amazing. Keep on teaching, Teacher!
I know that is has been a long time since I have written to you. It has been quite a school year, and I am entering a time of transition. Before I get to that, let’s talk about this past year.
How did it turn out for you? How did everything go? If you are reading this, you made it out alive, so that is something. :)
It was quite a year for me. There is not one word to describe it. It was challenging. It was trying. It was stressful. It was enlightening. It was strange. It was insightful. It was life-changing. It was. It just was.
I don’t know that I had a more difficult year with students. It wasn’t their behavior so much as it was their attitude towards learning. In a time when the stakes could not be higher for students to show growth, it seemed like my students were the least interested in growing. Was it like that for you this year?
That made teaching rough. I believe in students having the responsibility of learning and turning that responsibility over to them throughout the year. So many did not want to take those reigns from me. My classroom was student-centered, but I found that I wound up in the center so many times just to get through content.
I learned a lot about motivating students and a lot about motivating myself. How do I keep going with the idea of being brain-centered and student-centered when it seems like I am gaining so little ground. I learned to keep my head down and keep going down the road and trusting what I know is right for my students…but it was hard. Very hard. That is one of the reasons that I wrote so little to you this year.
But I made it.
You made it.
We made it!
I want to encourage you, Teacher. If it was a hard year for you, as it was for me, there is hope. You can do anything for a year and then you can look forward to the next. You know what is right for your students, even if they do not. Take some time and reflect this summer. What went right? What went wrong? Where do you need to dig in and keep going? What are some things you can let go of next year?
Keep on keeping on. Do what you know is right. Take a stand for what needs to be stood up for. Be the awesome teacher that you are.
Not every year will go well. Sometimes there will be a string of bad years. Sometimes your working environment will be challenging. Sometimes you will want to pack it in.
Remember one thing, though.
Your students need you. They really do.
If you keep doing what is right, day after day and year after year, things will eventually go right for you in ways that you know you are going in the right direction. Trust me.
A little about my life and transitions…
After nine years of trying to be the best teacher that can be at a Title I school and having strings of difficult years, there has been a change. My hard work was noticed. I was hired to work at my district’s science center. I will be moving out of the traditional classroom and be teaching students from all over my district and my area throughout the year.
It was difficult to pack up and leave my school for good after being there for so long…there were some tears…but I know that this is right. I am going to love every minute of my new job and I will be able to help more students fall in love with learning and help other teachers learn new ways to foster that love in students, too.
That being said, that leaves this blog in a state of flux. I need a little feedback here.
Since I will no longer be in the normal classroom, will you still accept my encouragement and advice here? How can I stay current with the struggles that you have in your classroom? How can I change the format of the blog to help you stay encouraged?
One thing I know that I can do is offer for you to email and let me know of a struggle in the classroom you are having. I can write directly to what you are going through here (keeping out any personal information). Would that be a helpful aspect to this blog? (My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Let me know any ideas that you have! Thanks!
Teacher, take some time for yourself this summer. Find ways to recharge and heal from the year. Don’t spend too much time getting ready for the next round. Just be for a while. Just be.
You are so awesome! I know that next year will be even better than this one was! Keep on doing what is right and keep on teaching, teacher!