As this year comes to an end and I reflect on the school year so far, I am constantly amazed at how much teaching has changed since I started over 20 years ago. Even though I am not in the classroom anymore, I still spend time working with teachers and students and helping teachers to move their practice forward. In fact, I spent almost 2 months in a classroom teaching this year as there was a teacher shortage. It was great to spend quality time with students and practice all of the things that I believe to be true about teaching and learning.
As time marches on, school changes too. I went through a bit of a teaching rut a few years ago. Rejuvenation didn’t start until I began to create and plan learning around my students needs and interests. Recognizing the need to be intuitive to my students and what motivated them and made them WANT to learn. I wrote about my own learning and growth as a teacher here . My blog posts were (and continue to be) very philosophical.
I have used my blog as my forum for “teaching self expression”. It has been a great way to self reflect on all my experiences in teaching. Being a reflective, philosophical, practitioner is who I am. To help teachers that need more practicality, I have written more practical posts on resources I have created. That is definitely not where I find my comfort zone. I’m a big picture thinker.
A Special Message
As I spent evenings creating, I knew had a special message to share with teachers. It was the message of teaching kids to be self aware and mindful. The more I taught my students about mindfulness and self-reflection, the more they grew as learners of all subjects. I, too, practiced being present for my students and really listening to their stories and needs. We were like a special little team in the classroom. Sharing this learning with other teachers was something I knew I had to do! There was just something so powerful about this learning. You will see some of this early work here on this blog and much of it in my teaching resources. These days, there is a lot out there on growth mindset and mindfulness.
I’ve had lots of teachers leave such amazing feedback that I sometimes have to pinch myself. I genuinely appreciate the emails that I get telling me how much my writing programs or mindfulness resources have helped their students. I feel especially blessed when someone across the WORLD emails me. It just feels so surreal. As I became part of a special blogging and teacher resource family for the last 6 years, it brought me forward yet again in my teaching practice. There’s something so unique and wonderful about collaborating with teachers around the world.
Sometimes, I get caught up in the all the fuss and branch out into things that I really don’t feel serves me or my followers well. I started a newsletter, as many bloggers have, but quickly realized I did not enjoy it. Why? It was because many of the teaching newsletters I receive are mostly about teaching resources and “freebies” and such. Some newsletters have helpful tips and strategies. It takes a LONG time to write a good newsletter! I’ll be honest. I felt a bit overwhelmed. Then I thought, if I am feeling this way, I’m sure others are too. (Teacher authors and also the recipients of the newsletters.)
It just seems that there is so much out there for teachers to consider. Sometimes less is more as the old saying goes. I’ve always felt that teaching was more about the building of relationships, the quality of instruction, and more hands-on exploratory learning in a collaborative environment. I like to share teaching ideas and strategies, and trials and tribulations of teaching life. Sometimes I just want to flow with a thought about teaching. I found myself feeling like I was doing “double duty” by writing blog posts and then writing even more by also sending out a newsletter.
Some things change and some don’t
While I still enjoy creating resources over at The Write Stuff that help teachers to implement such things as reading and writing strategies, growth mindset and social and emotional learning and project-based learning, I more enjoy writing and presenting to teachers.
Writing about teaching and learning is self gratifying for me. I like to teach my students to think and create learning opportunities for themselves. This philosophy of learning begins with a strong foundation of teaching reading, writing and mathematical skills. It also starts with a strong sense of self and a growth mindset. These tools are things that I have strived to provide my students for many years. The basics won’t change but the delivery of lessons and the depth of the learning will.
There’s no doubt that children have changed. I have witnessed it first hand. If you are frustrated with your students’ behavior, excessive talking and other things that make teaching hard, you are not alone. Teaching (and raising) today’s children takes a village. Working together to foster a great parent – teacher – child relationship is now more important than ever.
The more that teaching evolves into a facilitator of learning and mentor role, even with our youngest learners, the more our students will see learning as personal development and growth. It’s so motivating to know that you are in charge of your own learning and that your interests ignite your passions. I think this applies to teachers and students, don’t you?
So here I sit. I’m thinking about how teaching and learning is evolving and how social media can have a positive or negative effect on that. When I first started teaching there was no social media or blogs or newsletters. I do enjoy my online life a lot and I am grateful for the memories that are created and saved. I’m also grateful for how much you can learn. But with every upside there’s a downside. I wonder what it must be like for new teachers that did not know the teaching life before. Is it overwhelming? Does it make teaching easier, harder?
Just know that YOU are doing the most important job in the world. You don’t need to be more or extra. You just need to be you. Your students will remember you, not the lessons you taught. They will remember how you made them feel and that starts with empowering them as learners.
Here’s to a fabulous 2019 my teacher friends!