My students and I officially came back to school on Thursday, August 28th therefore we have reached the end of our first month together. In the spirit of putting more effort and attention toward my personal self-reflection (very growth mindset of me, I know), I am going to take the opportunity to share the three standout thoughts of my first month of the 2014-2015 school year.
1) You think you know, but you don’t.
I’ve realized that in my life, this concept applies to many things. Upon my first month reflection, I have realized that this has applies heavily to my students and the reputations that often precede them. It is absolutely bound to happen; you hear about students and their behaviors or achievement in previous grades and often times those conversations creep back into your head when you see your new class list at the beginning of the year. When reading some students’ names, you might experience a very good, or sometimes very bad reaction (you know the reaction I’m talking about). I’ve learned that although previous years’ teachers are often trying to be helpful by giving you a “heads up,” it is crucial to take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Full disclosure: kids change. Here’s another hard hitting fact: not all student-teacher relationships are created equal. Because of these two things, I’m come to understand that I cannot rely solely on word of mouth, and that it is absolutely paramount to allow time to build your own unique relationship with your new students, before passing judgment.
2) All classes are NOT created equal.
This is something I have been noticing more and more with each year of experience. I used to feel anxious and pressured when a new class wouldn’t reach the same academic milestones at the exact same time that previous classes had. Yes, it’s important to consult pacing guides and stay faithful to them as much as possible, but I’m more likely to default to meeting the needs of my class first and foremost. Academics are not the only area where this philosophy rings true. Although I stick to my behavior expectations pretty strictly from year to year, many times some classes respond to incentives and rewards in very different ways. In the end, it’s best to spend your first few weeks together getting to know your new class and individual students unique from years past.
3) Your work is never done.
Ok, this is probably a no-brainer. I’m hoping as a fellow educator you also consider yourself a life-long learner. Our work is never done when striving to become highly effective teachers. A few weeks back I asked a colleague, “at what year of teaching does one truly feel prepared, 100% confident, and not nervous about a thing?” He said, “Never.” I know that I grow as an educator each year because of my own mindset, and the experience I am gaining, but I’m realizing more and more that I will never be able to say that I have learned all that I need to impact kids in a positive way…and I’m ok with always striving more!
Upon my initial school year reflection, these three thoughts are really ringing true. Now that it’s (almost!) October, I’d love for your to share the products of your self-reflection by either leaving a comment below or tweeting me @brookster29! Don’t forget to use the #WATeachLead hashtag!