Monday, September 26, 2016

Good Intentions

I had every intention of using this blog space as a place for reflection, to sit down at least once a week to write about my new teaching life, my thoughts as I got reacquainted with the rhythms and routines of the classroom, my growing relationships with my students.

Then... it didn't happen.

This did:

Life.  Life happened.
I'm a teacher, yes, but I'm also a mom, a wife, President of the Secondary Reading League, Secretary of the Glenbrook North Parents Association.

I spend my evenings driving my kids to dance lessons and orchestra rehearsals.  I cook dinner.  I do laundry.  I plan (as evidenced by my dining room table on Sunday afternoon).

But I do think and reflect, even if I don't always get around to getting it all in writing.  This reflection is important.  If I don't take the time to think about my day, about my successes and flops, I'll never become a better teacher, and really, that is my goal: every day a better teacher than the day before.

What I have been doing is posting a "Highlights of my teaching day" post on Facebook each evening.  They typically look something like this:
These posts do a couple of things for me - they force me to focus on the positives that happen in my classroom every single day.  I am a horrible perfectionist, and if I let myself, I focus only on the things that were less than stellar.  In making these highlights public, I have to think through my day and choose the things that brought me joy.  I'm finding that knowing I'm going to write about them later, I notice these joyful moments more.  I'm looking for them.  I'm savoring them.

Of course, paying attention to the positive does not mean that I'm not considering the things that did not go as planned.  Every teacher, every day has those moments when he or she thinks, "Well... I did not expect THAT!"  Sometimes it's a piece of text that did not engage the students.  Sometimes it's a group project gone south.  Sometimes it's tripping on a cord and landing on your butt in the front of your room (yes... that happened to me and on a day when I had a group of observers no less).  I spend time each evening thinking about those things as well, and I make notes for myself about changes I need to consider in my lesson and unit plans for next year - or even the next day.  My plans are definitely fluid.  They need to be if I am going to be responsive to my students' needs.

So yes... I've been sporadic in posting here on the blog, but I am still trying to make it work in third grade.  Overall, I feel great about what I'm doing.  Here's why:
  • Most of my kids came into third grade loving to read; I get to benefit from that by seeing how excited they get about my classroom library.
  • The kids get to teach me new things every day (especially in math), and I let them know when they've done just that.  The smiles of pride on their faces are priceless.
  • I've had several students come to me, asking to share pieces of writing they did at home, just for fun.  They know I think it's fabulous they do the work as writers even when they're not told to.
  • Even though I'm dog tired at the end of every school day, I go home excited about my work.  I look forward to returning to school the next day.
  • I don't count down to Friday anymore.
And then there's this: