This is my response to the final DCSD Blogs challenge: Advice for new teachers. A huge shout out to Liz Mastalio for organizing this challenge.
Dear New Teacher,
You have entered a noble career, and I am glad you joined us. We have been waiting for you. No one will teach just like you. You will reach a student that none of us could. You will come up with your original ideas.
I encourage you to find a tribe of diverse teachers that inspire and push you to grow. Twitter is a great starting point to help you find that tribe. Create systems that help you learn because it is our job to be the lead learner in your classroom.
People will tilt the head and tell you how noble of you to be a teacher. They will also say how nice it must be to have summers off. At dinner parties, you will have to describe how not all schools are broken. It will be worth it when you see your students succeed.
Please realize that parents are sending their hopes and dreams. Treat each student as if they are your own child.
I won’t lie all days will not be sunshine and roses. To support you on the hard days, create a habit gratitude. When we become thankful, we find that rain brings rainbows. Spend time lifting up others because it will lift you up as well.
Again, I am so glad you decided to teach. We need you.
A Veteran Teacher
This week’s DCSD Blogs prompt was to talk about a mistake I made this week. I have been chewing on it all week. I automatically thought that my post would be similar to this one I wrote a few years ago; instead, the world turned my head differently.
I poked my head to into #BMoreedchat on Wednesday and followed a conversation about mistakes and the types of mistakes. (Thanks for the invite Jon Harper.) This article clearly explains the four types including stretch and sloppy mistakes. The first thing I realized that I treat every mistake as a high-stakes mistake when in reality my mistakes fall all over the board. When I treat every mistake the same, I don’t give myself the opportunity to learn from all mistakes. If you have been a faithful reader of mine, you probably can imagine my response if every mistake is high-stakes.
During the next few weeks, I am going to try this response to my mistakes. First, take a deep breath and then categorize the mistake. If I make a stretch mistake or Aha-moment mistake, I will work on celebrating and learning from them. If not, I will not panic, and I will work more on being intentional. I will be realistic about how many mistakes are really high-stakes. I cannot be the risk taker I want to be if I cannot correctly categorize my missteps. Also, do I want others to treat all of their mistakes the same? I need to help model these skills for others including my own children.
This is my response to the #DCSDBlogs week two prompt: Teachers Learning from Teachers.
When I heard this prompt, I started to think about all the useful advice I had been given throughout my teaching career such as read your contract and have detailed procedures for turning in work. I could categorize most of the advice as technical, helping me do the act of teaching better. I have one piece of advice that transformed my career and my life.
This piece of advice was given to me about eight years ago. I was pregnant with my first child and very anxious about how I could keep up my workload and be the mom I wanted to be. I was in my tenth year of teaching and I would be the first one to admit I did not understand work-life balance. Carol calmly told me that careers have seasons and it can look different as your life changes. As I ended that school year, I stepped down as the sponsor of Science Olympiad and began to simplify my life to prepare for my little man.
Over the following couple of years at my school, I learned what it meant to be on a team. When my son was sick and I had been up all night, my colleagues helped me with sub plans. When we scheduled meetings during the day, we kept in mind my other obligations. Just because I was the last person to arrive because of day care arrangements did not mean that I was not prepared or giving it my all. I began to really understand the difference between must-dos and nice to dos. I took care of the must-dos first and then began the nice to dos.
Of course, the seasons change as I stepped into more leadership roles. For example, when I became a Master Teacher in my district, I found in the beginning that lack of balance came racing back. I stayed calm because I knew that this was a season of learning and a new season would come soon enough.
As time continued, I shared this wise advice as people struggled with the work-life balance. Thank you, Carol, for that sage advice.