It seems like the right time of the year for this kind of post. Most of us are counting down the days to a well-deserved break from the stresses of teaching. Which do seem to pile up around this time of year.
But more importantly the new year is fast approaching and a great chance for reflection and a time to make change, not only in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. If you've had a rough start to the school year, or just found something new you want to try, this is the time to give it a go.
I have had a hard time verbally expressing just how the last few years have been for me in the classroom. The last year and a half have been the of the best of my teaching career, and it has been hard to narrow down just why that is?
And then, while perusing through Twitter, I came across an infograhic that explained everything that I was feeling. With pictures!!!
I have done everything on this list in the last two years (a few of them more than the last two years...) and it has changed everything from my approach to creating lessons, activities, and projects for my kids, but also in how I mentally tackle the "frustrations" that come along. I started earlier on with#9 professing how important it was for teachers to participate in PD workshops and conferences. So many inspiring teachers sharing awesomeness!
That led me me wanting to learn more from other teachers than just the 4-5 workshops I go to each year. So I tried out #10 by participating in just two Twitter Chats. Holy Cow! Talk about MOTIVATION! It was like starting out each week as the first day of school excitement. New ideas from other teachers across the country who were experiencing some of the same difficulties as I was, and many others who had much more! If you choose ONE THING on this list... #10 should be it!!!
Trust me, this doesn't mean that there aren't frustrating days, or people, or things that happen from day to day. I've had days where I run across the hall to Mrs. H. and vent (loudly) how frustrated I am that "X" is happening and "Y" doesn't seem to care, because she feels my pain! It happens, and we all need our "Mrs. H." to talk to!
This also doesn't mean that I don't have lessons, projects, or activities that suck. I do. But because I've attempted to develop #4, I realize that failure is ok. I'm modeling to the students how to reflect on choices I've made and I need to do to MAKE IT BETTER and I involve them in the conversation!
I have been attempting to do #3 more and more. Even if it means dropping what I had planned for the week and attempting an assignment that's more FUN than lecture and a worksheet...which is basically anything else. I am finding that the students are still learning when I turn them loose with the content.
Trust me, if you start with #2, then #6 is sure to follow! Start out by giving your students a survey about your class asking for what they like and don't like. Be sincere. Take their suggestions seriously and incorporate one or two. They will be impressed! (So will you...)
Somedays it seems like I am being tested to the MAX with #7, but in the end everything gets worked out, figured out, and done.
Throughout the shifts that I have made in the way I approach teaching and things that go on inside my classroom, I have also started to notice an increase in #8. And not just assuming that kids "like my class." I have received more positive feedback about my class and what it is doing to inspire kids than I ever have before. These are coming in the form of verbal discussions with students, handwritten notes, emails on the weekends, and parent comments. I feel for the first time in a 10-year career that I am actually inspiring to the students in my classroom.
If you're interested in making a change. Feel "stuck in a rut," or unhappy with the direction that education has been going in the last few years. My advice to you is to try ONE THING ON THIS LIST. Just one. I promise that will have a positive effect on your, your classroom, and/or your students. Which will leave you wanting to try more.
Motivation. Go get some!