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!
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!
So, the old Earth is finishing up another trip around the Sun. New Year’s Day is kind of like Earth’s birthday. Another year is over and it is time to start a new one. I bet you are reflecting aren’t you? It is kind of the human thing to do.
How was this year for you? What were the highs? What were the lows? How are you feeling about a new one starting?
Since you are in an introspective mood, I want to give a challenge to your inner monologue.
There is something you need to think about. The year is over, but the school year isn’t even halfway. This has been a difficult school year for most of us. We have been beat-up, beat-down, and you just feel beat.
You need something to get you through the rest of the year.
You need one thought.
You need a reminder.
This is a reminder only you can give yourself.
You need to answer one question, and I think you should answer it right now. Write down your answer. Give some reasons why you answered the way that you did. Put it somewhere to remind you for the rest of the year.
Are you ready?
Why are you a teacher?
I know, I know, this year you have probably asked yourself that a lot…with sarcasm and negativity. That is not what I am talking about. You need to reflect on the whole reason why you became a teacher in the first place. You need to think about the heart of what and why you do what you do and deal with what you have to deal with. There has to be a reason. You probably have many.
I bet your reason has little to do with content. It probably has everything to do with students and making a difference. I know this is the case for me.
Let me give you my reasons. This is more for me than for you…because I am a teacher and I need to do this as much as you do!
Why am I a teacher?
I have a huge heart and am filled with compassion for people that have little to no resources (aka…live at or near the poverty line)…teaching at a Title I school is a great way to have an impact and make a difference.
I want to help students, especially at-risk boys, start thinking through choices and become leaders in their families and communities.
I love to learn and pass that love of learning on to others.
I love the process of teaching and learning and I love to teach others how to learn better.
I am creative and obviously have a gift for teaching, I would be miserable not using my abilities and talents to help others.
Teaching is in my blood and I live for it…I would be bored doing anything else.
I can probably come up with 1000 more reasons, but I think this is a enough for now. That was helpful to my teaching heart and teaching soul! Thanks for letting me do that here!
What about you? Why are you a teacher?
You are awesome and you are good at what you do! I highly recommend some reflection on your reasons for teaching. It might make you ready to endure more of what is wearing you out this year. You have a reason. You have a purpose. You are making a difference. Keep on teaching, Teacher!
Today’s note is not so much for you. Today I want to talk to the voices. The voices that surround you. The voices in your head. The voices that are causing you to doubt what it is that you do.
Well, really, I only have two words for those voices today. It is quite an easy message for them.
Stop talking for just today. Your opinion is not needed. Your thoughts do not matter. You “knowledge” is not required. Not today. Not right now.
Okay. Now I have some quick words for you, Teacher. I mean these from the bottom of my heart. Lets these words hang in your mind today as you ignore the voices.
You are doing a great job!
You are, really, a good teacher.
The students are listening…even if you can’t tell yet.
The time that you are taking to do all that you do is worth it…especially taking the time set up quality experiences for those kids in your classroom.
You are reaching them…even the toughest ones.
What you are doing matters…you matter…so much more than it feels like sometimes.
Keep going. The hard work will pay off.
The students may be reluctant, but don’t give up. You are getting through.
Your instincts are right, trust them.
You are awesome, and I mean really, truly awesome.
Teacher, the voices sometimes matter. However, it is okay to take a break from them and celebrate what you are doing right. Let today be one of those days. Let the voices be quiet to your heart today and then look around and feel good about the good that you are doing. It is okay to be proud of yourself. Do that today. See what is going well and feel good about it. It is okay.
Make today a day about seeing how good of a teacher you are. There are enough days for seeing what you need to improve on. Don’t look at those issues….not today. Choose to only see the positive today.
You can do it.
Remember…quiet the voices and only hear “Good job.”
You are amazing. You are awesome! I am proud of you! I believe in you! Good job! Now, keep on teaching, Teacher!
I don’t know what kind of day you have had or week you are having, but I want to encourage you. Keep doing those every day things that you do. The every-day adds up. It is the day-to-day that builds into your awesomeness.
You don’t hear “thank you” enough. So let me thank you.
Thank you, Teacher. You do what needs to be done. You are changing the future one day at a time. You are awesome! Never give up! Keep on teaching and turning the ordinary into extraordinary!
How was your weekend? I know a lot of teachers are coming off of or going into Fall Break, if they are lucky enough to have that where they teach. Mine is this week, so I am starting a three-day school week.
So how are you doing this year? From talking to people and my feedback through the blog, it sounds like many teachers are having a rough year. What about you? How is it going?
This year has been good, rough, and just plain interesting for me. I don’t think you would believe half of the stories that I can already tell just from the 2014-2015 school year. I can tell you that I am worn out, tired, and a little beat-up. I know that I am making progress with my students, don’t get me wrong, I am just exhausted.
I have a feeling that you might just feel the same way. For that reason, today’s post will be a special one. I haven’t done one of these in a long while, but I think it is time to dust off the Theme Song Post.
If you are new to this blog, you might be wondering, “What is that?”
I pick a theme song for you to listen to while you read the rest of the post. I hope that it serves as a theme song for your day or week. It usually sticks with me for the whole week when I do these.
Anyway, click play and then read on…
Teacher, you do one of the most noble, yet challenging, jobs in the entire world.
Unfortunately, it feels more challenging that noble most of the time.
First of all, you work with a room full of students everyday (or several groups of students throughout each day). That is a challenge in of it self. You have to know your students. You have to know what they need. You have to figure out how to get them to work together. You have to get them to learn how to learn. You have to teach them specific content. You have to…well, you get the point. This would be a list the size of the internet if I put everything that you need to do on this level of teaching.
Add to that, you have to deal with student issues, behaviors, and struggles. You have students with bad days. You have students who don’t get along. You have students who have IEPs. You have students that are ESOL. You have students with BIPs. You have students that come from environments that do not reinforce what you are teaching. You have students who are lacking the skills with which they should have had before getting to you. You have students who need to learn some social skills that are lacking. You have students who can’t sit still. You have students on multiple levels of abilities. You have students who don’t care. You have students that care too much. You have a thousand other specifics here. You have more than a handful of things to think about besides what you teach at any given moment.
On top of all of this, you have voices and critics from the outside. There is administration telling you how to teach and not teach. You have teams and other teachers giving advice on how you can better reach your students. You have parents giving you feedback on what they feel like you are doing wrong. You have district level people changing the expectations for you left and write. You have the state making curriculum changes that wildly affect the students that sit in your classroom. You have an ever changing landscape of standards to muddle through. You have the world of education with the ever-growing list of best practices, current theories/strategies, and 21st century skills that you just have to incorporate into your classroom and instruction. You have a million different directions that you are being asked to go everyday.
And then there is you.
In your classroom.
With your students.
And you are awesome.
In all of this, you chose to have one focus, and one focus only.
You know that it is those young minds that matter most.
And you make it work.
You do everything that you can do to protect your students from all of the other stuff. You are the umbrella that covers them. You are the shield. You are their cover from the mess all around them and you.
Teacher, you try your best to be bullet-proof.
But it is not for you,; it is for them.
I want to encourage you, friend. You are doing the right thing by focusing on the students before all else. You are making good choices. You are making a difference.
I know that it is hard. It is really, really, really hard sometimes. But keep going. Keep fighting. Keep doing what you do.
It is difficult to be made of titanium, but sometimes you have to be. I know that you know that it will be worth it for those students sitting in your desks in your room. Don’t give up. Don’t stop. You are an amazing teacher! I mean that. I really do!
You are so awesome! You don’t always feel that way, but it is so very true. You do what needs to be done for students. This is why you are a great teacher. Don’t forget that! Never stop! Keep on teaching, Teacher!