Sunday, June 17, 2012
Time and Tide Reflection
I don't usually get philosophical on this blog, nor do I ofttimes wax rhapsodic. But this is the time of year where I must. I love my career! I love my teaching, my practice, my profession, my students, my families, and my community! I can't imagine doing anything else that feeds my soul like teaching! I love the seasons and the time and tide of it. The great thing about summers off (other than it's awesome) is the ability to step back and reflect about the past school year. So here are my 5 R's to help with that reflective journey.
Before you can truly reflect you gotta relax. And it doesn't have to be a week at the beach (but that helps!) but it should be a seeking of solace. Quieting your mind, read (of course!), breathe, sleep (I did a lot of that) heal (I always seem to get a cold at breaks & holidays - like my body says "Oh, you have time now....here you go!) putter, get a massage, swim, garden - whatever it is that let's you let go is good. Disconnecting from social media is also helpful - going off the grid. I have a hard time with that - but it's lovely.
Once you're relaxed reflect on the things that went well last year. Lessons that inspired, projects that showed promise, and programs that popped! Also think about the things that didn't go so well and how you could improve. Stay the course, or change it. However, sometimes, you can't change a situation but you have to learn to graciously accept it - and then work around it. One year I had a class assigned to my library due to over crowding - knowing that unless we had one year of it we wouldn't qualify for an extra "portable" so I had to grit my teeth & make the best of it. I ended up great friends with the teacher and we did co-teaching all year! The other teachers saw what we were doing and the next year when that class was in it's new portable, I had requests for similar lessons from all subject areas.
This year we had months and months where our library seemed like standardized test central. For MOD and makeup testing - where a few days our doors even had to be locked with big signs that said DO NOT ENTER. (That killed me!) Knowing of course, I wasn't the only one in my district or state going through all that helped. Finding acceptance that this was for the good of a needful portion of my kids helped, and also finding Ninja ways around it helped, too! Visiting the classrooms with carts of books - making my teaching "to go" or "on delivery" quelled my need for that teaching fix and kept me connected to my kids. But whatever challenge you face in your school - coolly reflect on it and move on.
Think about ways to effect real change and revise what you did from last year to the coming new school year. My Mom (an amazing retired gifted & talented Reading Specialist and English teacher) says that: "One of the BEST things about teaching was that every school year was a do-over! Every new school year was a fresh start." Don't dwell on the past look to the future! Choose ONE BIG THING to focus on next year. Join Twitter? Attend a professional conference? Better yet, PRESENT at a professional conference! Start a wiki? Pump up your Web Presence? Don't make it impossible, make it do-able! Set a reasonable goal for practice next year and keep it. Post-it wall optional!
Now this is the tough love time. Really think about WHY you are in this profession. Do you speak enthusiastically about what you do? Do you like, admire, believe in, and cheer for your kids? I know when writing I use a LOT of !!!'s Like I said in a recent interview for the excellent website Middleweb: "I always feel like Elaine in that Seinfeld episode where she has to take out exclamation marks, because I do use so many. Those and ellipses! Nom Nom.
A simple gift like these can make that re-dedication manifest. When you get one of these? Take a picture of it and keep a file folder of em for when you need that soul refresh. I have a manilla folder and a Flickr set called Happy. Works every time!
But let’s face it: If you, as a teacher or a teacher librarian, find that when you write about your teaching practice, and you don’t feel the urge to use an inordinate amount of !!!!!’s, then maybe you need to go re-kindle your passion or get the heck out. Our profession is so precious, our responsibility to our students is so great, that if you don’t have the proper enthusiasm and optimism for it then maybe some serious soul searching needs to happen – STAT!"
Celebrate your year! It's over.....and I'm sure you had some high points and some low ones. You taught and most importantly you LEARNED! Celebrate your successes and accept your failures. We all have them and frankly, my failures teach me MUCH more than my successes. We have the BEST job ever! Rejoice!
On Time and Tide - not only is it a fav album by one of my fav 80's bands Split Enz...but it's about the pace of our lives. The lyrical dance of days. The time and tide of our school year. Embrace the seasonal gifts along with our kids. The start of a new year - new pencil fresh with all the infinite possibilities, the holidays peppered in the fall, Thanksgiving and time with my family, Christmas (or PC Winter Break) snow days...doing the snow dance in my kitchen wearing my jammies inside out, Monday bank holidays, and spring break. Oh spring break...my beloved pause where I usually go to our oceanfront beach condo in DE and spend a whole week...well, getting a jump on my 5 R's! Whatever it takes to re-kindle that innate optimism that brought you to teaching...take this time and FIND IT again or burn it brighter baby!
Now go out there and be AWESOME!
What kind of things do you to do to rededicate yourself to teaching? What did I forget? OR What is your favourite holiday?
Oh Tim & Neil Finn of Split Enz! - My teenage heart still swoons for you! I saw you perform in DC where you were the headliner & Duran Duran opened for you because XTC had cancelled their concert....you were AWESOME! Split Enz and Duran Duran at Ontario Theatre (24 Jun 82)