I am forever a learner. Let's start with a little background. I have been teaching for 20 years. Wow. That is only part of the story as I am only half way through my career. Teaching is my passion. Since the 3rd grade (although my mom says 1st), I have wanted to be a teacher. All was going well until about 8 years ago. I had found my niche in teaching upper elementary (mostly 4th grade), found my best friends in the wonderful colleagues at my school, and my home life heading in the direction I had always wished upon a star for (yes, I also love Disney). Then something happened.
I GOT BORED! I found myself wondering if I had taught a lesson before (of course I had, just not that year!). I worried that I was no longer giving my students my best. If I was bored, then my students had to have been bored as well. At the time, I figured I just needed a small change. So I volunteered to teach a combo class. Since I teach in California, there is always (unfortunately) a combo class at my school. This helped me to be motivated and passionate once again. For a little while.
Then last year, I had one of the worst years of my teaching careers. Now, in the scheme of life and teaching, it was not as bad as it could have been. I realize there are schools where students live in complete poverty and come to school with nothing, or teachers who have to worry about violence to themselves and their students on a minute by minute basis. This was not the case. For me, the worst year came from a class of students who were apathetic to almost everything I did. I tried rewards, negative consequences, project-based learning, technology, everything I could think of. I blamed previous teachers for not teaching the students the required standards, the parents for not supporting education, and the students for not caring. What I didn't look at was my teaching. Once again I WAS BORED, and now I was also STRESSED!
I began this year with a renewed spirit. There was a new class of students who were willing to try new things. After a few months, I started to notice that my teaching was becoming once again the same as it always had been. I was teaching a combo class of 4th and 5th graders. Thanks to the new Common Core standards I was trying new things in some areas, but overall things were the same.
Then in December of 2015, suddenly I made the decision that I needed to change. I began to look at ideas I had seen through Twitter, Facebook, and educational blogs about changing my teaching and classroom. So in the last three months, I have changed a LOT of what happens in my classroom. I am becoming more student centered. We are still doing project-based learning (maybe not the true definition of it, but we are on our way), there is a lot of technology being integrated into our activities, and we now have flexible seating (see pic below). While there are still days where things do not go as well as I would like, each day I am enjoying teaching and learning from my students.
What I have learned in the last three months:
- Students actually participate more when they get to choose how/where they sit (not something I would have ever thought possible)
- Technology can be a wonderful tool if used for more than just specific websites (although they have their place)
-Teaching is a lot more fun when it is student centered for both the students and me
-Twitter is my new favorite place to get inspired
-Teaching will always be my passion, especially if I am willing to learn new things to keep it interesting!
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching