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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We all need a little encouragement.....

I have to be honest -- I think the main reason I have been avoiding getting too personal in my recent blog entries is that the past three months have been extremely stressful and difficult for me at school, for a variety of reasons. Aside from adjusting to a new set of challenging eighth graders, I also am essentially running the eighth grade team by myself. My co-team leader has been a huge disappointment and not fulfilling her professional responsibilities really at all, much to my chagrin. I have tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, but we are now over twelve weeks into the school year, and I am at my wit's end with the situation.

Gradually, it has become more and more apparent to me that I need a change. I believe that my cup is completely full at my current school and that it is in my best interest to teach elsewhere next year. In fact, I keep contemplating the idea of moving to a high school to teach English and coach cross country and/or track. It would be a welcome change and afford me the opportunity to gain experience at a new grade level in the vastly different world of high school. Ahh, the possibilities.....

Aside from craving professional growth and change, I also live and breath a thick layer of hostility and negativity in my building that has become all-consuming and toxic. The positive, hopeful, and upbeat tone of our leadership team during the summer has deteriorated into one of mistrust, disempowerment, and an all-around lack of communication. One of my colleagues bravely sent an email to our leadership team speaking to this unfortunate demise and offers an alternative way to move forward. I think you will find his words inspiring and understand why they are much-needed for us all at this point:

I was contemplating whether to send this to all of you, but here goes. On Tuesday, while I sat in our meeting, I was forced to reflect on the great time we had this summer together. We talked about so many inspirational things that had us all motivated to achieve our goals for the year. I remember celebrating and laughing as we ran down the hallways racing each other to put toys in pans in order to believe that teamwork truly matters. I also remember sharing stories about our past that caused professionals to cry because it created a feeling of caring. In addition, the session with county personnel enabled us to realize that we needed to make changes in order to reach our goals for students and staff. 

Honestly, I didn’t feel that same group during the ILT meeting. It was as if I just met all you that day, and I was trying to figure out who all of you were. In actuality, there was so much hostility with body language and negative comments that it was rather painful being a part of the meeting. I personally felt that many decisions that needed to be made were pushed off for another day. Now I know that processing needs to happen, but please tell me when we are going to just make the decisions. We are all intelligent, loving human beings who have dedicated our lives to reaching students on all levels, and we need to start turning to each other instead of on each other. 

This note is not intended to call out anyone because we all make our share of mistakes but my mission is to focus on my weaknesses in effort to correct them, and to encourage my department to do the same. Change for students comes from the heart because once they know you care they will run through a wall because they know you appreciate it. I recall the teacher that changed my life is the one that sacrificed her time to build a one on one relationship with me even though I got on her nerves daily. I am still thanking this same woman to this day because she motivated me to believe in myself when I did not. 

My experiences with her carried me into other professions that I enjoyed and it developed part of my self esteem. I can’t tell you how much that has helped me through my life.  As a coach once told me, “worry about the things that you can control and find the ways in getting the job done regardless of the time constraints.” I hope this email does not offend anyone and I hope it is clear that will I continue to support our wonderful school regardless of the issues we face on a daily basis.

These words helped provide me with some perspective and empower me to focus on what truly matters: making the decisions that best fit the needs of our students who truly need us.

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