Monday, July 1, 2013

A Month In Reflection

When the final school bell rang four weeks ago, I packed up and headed back home for the summer. Unlike some of my colleagues, I've made a handful of trips back to BDHS for committee meetings for spearheading our school wide efforts in 2013-14 with PBIS, but this drive time was beneficial for personal reflection on the past nine months. I once read that not taking time to reflect is the equivalent of going through a day without ever looking in the mirror. How would I know if I was truly ready, willing and able to face the future if I never looked at my performance in the classroom? This is why these past four weeks have been a necessary part of my professional career, thinking about my actions in and out of the classroom throughout the school year. What did I do well? What could I improve upon next fall? And how should I use the summer months to impact tomorrow's classroom?

So what did I learn this past year? If there comes a time in my life when I stop learning, that will be the instant I need to retire from teaching. I learned that preparation is key to not only my success, but for my students as well. I always need to have an alternative game plan in mind in order to shift gears at a moment's notice. This past year there were several times when something happened in my classroom that required more focus, a moment when shifting gears was not only appropriate, but also very necessary.

I also learning how important it was to speak in the language of my students. Not that I needed to be 'best buddy' with them, but that I often had to break it down in terms which they could better understand by associating the idea with a concept they were more aware of. The beauty of good teaching is often found within this trait, and I am confident of my abilities.

What did I give this year? Every stream has both an inlet and outlet, and it's never enough for me to be a learner without also being a giver. This is perhaps my greatest possession, being able to give back to my students. During my journey back to the classroom, I found knowledge to be instrumental in the way I understood education. Those people who shared their insight were those who I admired most. Their means of communication where laced within conversations, articles, letters, blogs, books, the internet, social media, and so much more. They created an environment which challenged my thinking in ways I never thought possible. It was NOT a one-way exchange, but an ongoing process. From this personal growth comes a greater willingness to give back. This is not an 'arrogance thing' better described as an effectiveness thing. I want (and need) to be an effective teacher. If I am learning as a teacher and then inspiring, I feel as if I am succeeding in what I do.

During this first-year teacher's time in the classroom, I witnessed both intellectual and personal growth in all my students. They provided me with memorable experiences from which I am able to build upon in years to come. And while I am far from being the teacher I aspire to be,  I am fully engaged in the process and look forward to the challenges that still lay ahead.

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”  Peter F. Drucker