What I’m Thankful For

happythanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, I continuously reflect on what I am thankful for.  While being a teacher sure can be frustrating (Who can tell Tommy what page we should be on?), and at times aggravating (How many SGO’s do we have to do?), it is important to remember how rewarding and enjoyable it is.  There are a few things this year that I am particularly thankful for.

1. Students who are eager to learn

Clearly, there are those few students who are not eager to learn (or who may not be eager to learn the subject or lesson you are teaching).  Those students can be a challenge, but I try not to let them discourage me. I know I won’t be able to reach every kid. However, I feel refueled and rejuvenated by students who simply try, ask questions, make mistakes, and try again.  It is that simple.  And when a student is able to forget about the grade and focus on the skills and the fun of learning, amazing things can happen.

2. Parents who want to see their children learn, be challenged, and grow (not just get an A and call it a day)

I cannot express how much I love parents who understand the role of education.  At times, I feel the strong need to put out a PSA explaining to parents that education is not just a stepping stone to the rest of their life – it is a journey that should be embraced and enjoyed. Sometimes it is challenging and kids won’t always get it right, and that’s ok.  Students come in to sixth grade language arts asking my least favorite question: “How many sentences should this be?”, and my heart breaks a little.  My hope is that by the time they leave me, they are asking not how many sentences or paragraphs or pages they need, but “Do you think this piece is effective?”.  When more parents value the ups and downs of education, students will too.

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Summer Reflections

The poet, Carl Sandburg once wrote, “It is necessary … for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”.  The end of the school year is always a vital time to reflect.  I usually spend the two summer months that I am not in school thinking about how my year has gone and what can be improved for the coming year. For example, I know that this summer, I will be fiddling with new ideas (and technology) that will help me to stay in contact with parents more frequently and more efficiently next year.  As teachers, we are lucky to have the time to reflect in between each academic year. Summer months rejuvenate,  inspire, and allow us to be better than our past selves. There are many ways that people choose to reflect on their year; here are a few of my favorites:

1. Enjoy some time off first.

This is something I struggled with during my first few summers off. I needed to fill my days with something, whether it be reading a new methodology book, reorganizing my binders and handouts, or even just going pin-crazy on Pinterest. I’ve since learned how very important it is to clear your head, relax, and separate yourself a bit from the year that has just ended. I feel you go into your reflections with a more open mind.

2. Define your current strengths and weakness.

When you have finally relaxed, think about where you stand as a teacher. Be proud of your accomplishments and your strengths, and be aware of your weaknesses. I find that from summer to summer these strengths and weaknesses are always changing and it is interesting to see what I still need to improve upon.

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