The first weeks of school are always challenging. There are ups and downs. It's funny because exactly this week last year I wrote the post, "New Teachers: What Happens When the Honeymoon Ends." Read it here: http://middlegradesteacher.blogspot.com/2013/08/new-teachers-what-happens-when.html.
Ha! I have to laugh at myself a little bit. At the time of that post, I truly felt that my passion for education was suddenly waning. I feared I'd be unable to connect with my new students as I had with my previous ones. So, I woefully cried out upon the blogger page only to soon learn that it was nonsense. I went on to have a fantastic and fulfilling year with my students full of passionate teaching!
However, with every new year comes new challenges....
Outside of new students, new curriculum, and an entirely new grade level of standards I'm learning this school year, there's also a new teacher evaluation system and standardized test coming down the pike for teachers within the state of Georgia. All this change has left many teachers (me included) feeling a bit cranky, uncertain, or off balance at times. So, for my reflection this week, I'd like to highlight a few ways in which I plan to stay fearless in the midst of change in the school year ahead.
1. Stick to My Personal Mission: I promised myself when I began my career as an educator that my students would always come first! I would never become so absorbed with worry over my students passing the standardized tests that I'd lose total focus on the fact that I'm teaching humans, not robots. That doesn't mean I avoid preparing students for success on the test. It's just not the central motivation for what I do in the classroom.
2. I Won't Quit When the Going Gets Tough!: There are teachers I've met who've decided to leave public education due to their frustrations over the strong emphasis on standardized testing. They're fed up. I understand their concerns, but at the same time, I wonder, "Who's left to teach the kids?" I REFUSE to throw away my life's mission as a public educator due to frustrations over a simple test. What is the worst case scenario of students not doing well? I assume it would be losing my job. I've lived through job loss within my family, and although tough--there are worse things in life. I'm confident I'd find gainful employment elsewhere. In the meanwhile, I'll stay fearless, and teach on!
3. I'll Be Consistent and Do Things the Right Way: I'll strive for excellence every day. That means: offering units, lessons, and assessments that will prepare each student for academic success which will lead to strong yearly growth; collaborating with teachers within my grade level, across grade levels, and with other schools; pushing students to reach their academic goals-teaching them not to quit; tutor--provide scaffolding outside the normal school day; communicate with parents consistently and help them to be partners in their child's education; continually learn--attend conferences; be a positive force every single day with my students, colleagues, and parents; help other teachers to feel safe; reflect on my teaching weekly; daily professional dress; and always help someone else's day be a little bit brighter. Excellence is about doing the right things even when you're tired. It's about bringing--it--every day. Did you notice I repeated--every day--several times? Excellence only comes from being consistent.
I know that if I do these things with integrity, I won't have to worry about the end of year test results. Strong scores will be there, because I took the steps to ensure the success of every student in my classroom. As a result, I will have happy, successful students, and a fulfilling and gratifying school year.
Wishing all educators an excellent and passion filled year ahead!
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.