Each January we make resolutions at the beginning of the new year. Some will be kept, most will be long forgotten by the end of the first week. Last year @CoriOrlando challenged our staff to create one word to describe how we were going to get through 2016. My word was "willing". I think I more than lived up to that word. I was willing to try quite a few things both personally and professionally. I became a blogger and a presenter for people other than those I knew through my school or district. I ditched my desks and textbooks. I threw caution to the wind and went PBL for most topics. I tried (and loved) Breakout boxes. I thoroughly embraced tech and letting my students teach me a few new things. I gave up homework and some aspects of control in the classroom. (As a teacher, I can't give up total control!) Most of this was completely out of my comfort zone prior to the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.
After reading Cori's blog (leadinginlimbo.weebly.com) and watching the #DitchSummit by @MattMiller, I decided it was time to come up with a new word for 2017. So many different ideas came in such a rush that I needed to narrow down to what they all had in common: I want to inspire those around me. I don't want what I am doing to be limited to my classroom and friends. Becoming a blogger and a speaker helped start me on this journey. The class motto of "Try Everything" helped my students as well. However I feel like I have more to give.
There are a few students who I have not reached yet. They still struggle and don't like to go to school. Two come to mind. One I had last year. He was a strong student in a typical classroom. He was good at giving the information back to the teacher in the typical methods: essays, multiple choice tests, verbal answers. However, last year, he really struggled when I made him discover his own learning and create his own end products. Breakouts were horrible for him because he had to work with others that had a different way of thinking and problem solving skills. He wanted to be the first and best at everything we did, but didn't understand my classroom. This year he is embracing more of my style of teaching, but still gets frustrated with new situations. How do I inspire him to keep trying new?
The second student has attendance issues. His home life is not that easy and he brings the frustration into my class. (Unfortunately this is all too common in many classrooms.) His absences affect his understanding of much of the concepts, but I am blamed by both him and his mom for not spending enough time with him so he can get it. While I don't bring that blame on myself, I do need to figure out how to inspire him to do better when he is in school. I did a teacher report card where the students got to rate my teaching skills and style in both content and personal rapport. (Thanks @GeorgeCarganilla and The Classroom Chef for this idea!) I am pretty sure (even though it was completely anonymous) he was the student who remarked that I didn't understand him and don't show interest in the students. This I take blame for. I need to find what I can do to inspire him to try harder and find that school can be a safe/fun place to be.
Outside the classroom, I have reached out and shared with a few colleagues on a regular basis. I have presented at a few of our "trainings", which are voluntary on Monday afternoons so few people come. My blog is doing better than I ever hoped (see the last post). Presenting at the CETPA conference in November encouraged me even further. Hopefully I am inspiring others through these avenues to change up how they teach or what their classroom looks like. I want to take this further though, especially for those who I can make local contact with. How I go about this, other than continue to do what I am doing both in and out of the classroom, is not yet figured out, but is something for me to aspire to in the coming year.
Will 2017 allow me to reach the goal of "inspire" to the same degree that I did with "willing"? We'll have to see. That's the great thing about a goal. It doesn't have to be something done right away. It can be accomplished little by little, one student and one colleague at a time.
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