Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where does the summer go?

I recognize it has been longer than usual since my last post, and for that, I apologize. Every year, I am mind-boggled at how quickly and swiftly the summer seems to fly by. Many of my non-teaching friends will lightheartedly harass me at having the entire summer off, but this summer is far from relaxing, boring, or ordinary for me.

Since closing out the final marking period and boxing up my classroom on June 17, I have been very busy and have accomplished quite a bit, both personally and professionally. I immediately completed a rigorous three-day course to earn Confidence Course certification, which will allow me to lead the Confidence Course workshops with the Grade 6 Outdoor Education program this fall (and in future years!). This program builds trust, confidence, creativity, cooperation, discipline, and teamwork among the sixth grade students, a process I am honored and excited to be a part of.

I have also spent several summer days in my school building beginning to prepare for the new school year. Many changes will be present this fall, including a new co-team leader, new assistant principal, several new staff members, the loss of former treasured colleagues, and the beginnings of an enormous three-year building renovation. Change is never easy, but I am trying to keep the most positive attitude and open mind possible about what lies ahead.

The last weekend in June, I ran my seventh marathon of the year with a colleague, whom I have lured into running marathons with me (!), in Charlevoix, Michigan. My goal is 12 marathons in 12 months this year, and hey, I am already over half of the way there! We enjoyed driving through most of the state of Michigan, a place much more beautiful and friendly than anticipated.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a process management conference, which proposed a new way to problem solve and collaborate in a professional learning community. I look forward to seeing how my school's leadership team implements such processes with our decision making sessions this coming school year.

With other secondary English teachers in the county, I also had the opportunity to participate in two days of range-finding. In these sessions, we examined, scored, and discussed numerous eighth grade student writing samples to determine holistic rubric scores (out of a possible 5 points). I discovered that I tend to be a tougher grader of students' writing, which I am proud of. I want to hold all of my students to high standards and expect to see their best work on paper with each assignments.

Last week, I had the chance to visit my family up north and spend some quality time with my mother, who is a true inspiration for me. I enjoyed trading teaching stories with my uncle, who has been teaching high school social studies for over 30 years. While his population is far more "White" than mine, we still deal with many of the same challenges and frustrations on a daily basis. My family really wanted me to open up about my students and what it is like to teach crazy middle schoolers; I was more than happy to oblige.

This week, my school's leadership team is meeting all day every day to prepare for the year ahead. Thus far, the experience has been much more meaningful, beneficial, collaborative, and honest than in prior summers. Since my principal received essentially a vote of "no confidence" from the majority of her staff by the end of last year, she knew things needed to change, as did her immediate supervisors and our building's union representative. To her credit, she had the courage and bravery to bring in two consultants from the county to listen to us vent ALL of our concerns about what is happening in our school in the room without administration present.

Today, we came back altogether to review what these concerns are and participate in a wide variety of team building activities that revealed our true selves, backgrounds, and authentic experiences with race, equity, and learning. The result? We found ourselves learning a great deal about everyone else and realizing that everyone's "truth" is valuable and real, however different it may be from our own reality.

Truthfully, I am now more hopeful than ever that positive change is possible in our school and that our principal is willing to do whatever it takes to regain and rebuild our trust in her. This will not be an easy road, but no difficult process ever is. We will be tested as leaders of our school who represent the best interests of our students and teams of teachers. We will be asked to step outside our comfort zones and have the courageous conversations we would much rather NOT have. And most importantly, we will be charged with modeling the kind of teaching and leading we value and deem important for others to use in their classrooms.

Are we ready for this challenge? I certainly hope so.

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