It is Monday again. Are you ready for a new week? I think I am…but even if I am not, it is time to jump into that river of the week and ride the rapids of a week in the life of a teacher. Ready or not, here we come, Week! 🙂
You probably know what is coming. If you don’t, click play and then keep reading. Okay, if you are not a Harry Potter fan, don’t watch the video, just listen. Oh, and I have used this band before, but I love them and this song is perfect for what I want to talk about!
I have the pleasure of being a middle school science teacher at a middle school that using the teaming model – a team of teachers in the core subjects (Math, ELA, Social Studies, and Science. There are two teams and the students in each grade are split between the two teams. This means that I am a part of a team with the other three core teachers, and I have a cohort teacher who also teaches science in my grade level (6th grade). This year my science cohort is a first year teacher. For this reason, I have been having to frame up who I am as a teacher more than ever this year…and this led me to an interesting question last week. I had the thought, if the first year version of myself had to work with the current version of me, what would he think?
Quite honestly, I would say that I probably would have been scared of the current teacher version of who I am. Not frightened, but scared of trying to think about teaching as I do now. I would see a lot of what I do as being risky or not making sense. I would admire the way that I can change and adapt to situations on the fly, but the whole “working without a net” thing would scare me.
As a first year teacher, I was focused on teaching what I was given to teach. I lived and died by the standards. The main goal was to deliver all of the standards and make sure I taught them to the T. No time to waste. It was about the standards. If the students did not learn them by the end of the year, it was not my fault. I taught them, and I taught them well.
That mindset kind of scares the current me.
Do not get me wrong. I still teach my standards and teach them completely, but that is not my main focus. My focus now is on learning. How am I teaching my students how to learn? My curriculum decisions have shifted from how can I best deliver the standards to how can the students learn what I need to teach them and apply the learning/concepts to other subjects and the rest of their lives. I do not know how I ever taught any other way. Is there any other focus that should have.
Because of this focus, sometimes my classroom does not seem very science-like. The students write more for me than they do in English sometimes. They are up, they are moving, they are thinking outside of the box. I re-frame the model of teaching and learning constantly, and a lot of times this causes me to spend more time than normal on the set-up for a unit. But it is for a reason. When the students find a reason to learn something, they are more likely to truly learn it! This is the same reason that I will give more time on a concept than I used to…or sometimes less time…because I have changed the frame of why the students are learning it. When you have 100% engagement, it makes the different styles and methods of teaching (and the planning that goes into them) quite worth it.
This way of teaching would have been foreign to me in my first year, and that is why a teacher like I am now would have scared me quite a bit.
I could write a lot more about the changes in my teaching, but I won’t bore you now…let me get to my point instead. 🙂
Who are you, Teacher?
Have you ever taken that cold, hard look in the mirror and asked yourself who you are as a teacher? Would the first year version of you wonder what you are doing? Have you changed at all? Why do you do the things that you do?
If you are a “newbie” teacher (first three years), you can take a look in the mirror, too. When you first started your education program, what kind of teacher did you want to be? Are you that teacher now? Do you see a different kind of teacher you would like to be? What will it take to be that kind of teacher?
The most important question: Why?
I said it above, but the most important question you can ask yourself is: “Why?” Why do you do what you do in the classroom? Why do you make the decisions that you make? Why do you say what you say? Why do you use the methods and resources that you use?
You can also use “Why?” in another pivotal way. Look at teachers who are more like you would like to me and ask them the questions. Why do you do what you do? Why did you do that? Why do you say that? Why do you use those methods and resources? Why do you “die on the hills” that you die on with students and “fight the battles” you chose to fight. These questions are especially important if the teacher does a lot of things that are not necessarily “live or die” parts of their standards.
“Why?” is a life-changing questions. You need to ask it of yourself and others!
This is Your Life
This is your life, Teacher. Are you who you want to be? Are you making the choices that you want to make? Are you impacting students in the ways that you wish you could?
Today is a good day to start. Start asking “Why?” today. Once you have your answers, start moving from there. How can you make a future self that your current self can be proud of? Start building that future today!
Your are so awesome! I know that do and will ask the hard questions. I know that you will start to find ways to make changes. I know that you will make a future self that other teachers will model themselves after! You are amazing! Keep on teaching, Teacher!
PS…A lot of you visited my Teachers Pay Teachers store last week, I used feedback to completely renovate the store and products. You can now get all of my current Awesome Notes for one low price, and they are much more user friendly. The free product is even something that I love to use. Please check it out. The picture in this post is one of the notes in the megapack, by the way. Oh, and I promise, this is the last commercial for the TpT Store for a while. 🙂