Writing is something I enjoy but not something that comes easily or naturally. Majoring in English was a major stretch for my linear, logical, always-want-the-right-answer way-of-being. Nonetheless, doing so worked out, and I have been teaching high school English for over 12 years now. My strengths lie in understanding the big picture and organizing ways of getting others to do so as well.
Last year at this time I was an experienced teacher working in a new district when an email came through about this opportunity to apply to become a WA State Teacher Leader Blogger or Tweeter. I was immediately interested for various reasons including:
- I like the blogging genre–its narrative yet informational tone is easy and engaging to read
- I was a lonely “new” teacher looking for friends
- I wasn’t overwhelmed with other teacher-projects because nobody knew my capabilities
I applied and was accepted, experiencing the typical “yay-they-want-me” thoughts along with the “what-am-I-getting-myself-into” questions. After almost a year of working on the project, I can honestly say it is one of my favorite professional development endeavors to date. I strongly encourage others to explore the potentials of this opportunity. Here’s why I blog.
Though I was fairly familiar with the ELA Common Core State Standards and shifts before I started this project, thanks to blogs from Al, I have continued to learn more about these standards and their multi-faceted demands. Also, as the mother of a 3rd and 4th grader and one who likes to know what her students are doing in their other classes, I have appreciated learning more about Math CCSS and NGSS. Resources provided by the aforementioned Al, Patty, Francis, Doug, and Patricia have opened my eyes to what all of my kids are working on and toward.
I am pretty comfortable teaching high school-aged students–their over-confident innocence and quirky ways keep me entertained and on my toes. I have never thought that teaching a younger grade would be easier or more enjoyable–for me. What fun it has been, though, to hear about the ins and outs of other grade levels. Jill’s kindergarten posts have made me laugh until I cry, and Tom’s 4th grade experiences help me understand what my standards look like at the elementary level.
TPEP is a four-letter word to some of my colleagues, and I have so appreciated the rational and easy-to-follow advice provided by fellow teacher leaders. I now have a wealth of information to reference as I work on evidence collection, student-growth goals, and pre/post observation meetings.
New Ideas Galore!
I have really appreciated that, for the most part, we have freedom to write about topics of personal concern and interest. Individual lesson ideas are, perhaps, one of my favorite take-aways. Kristin’s Mostly Appropriate Resources and Alicia’s arts integration posts have provided me with a number of new ideas and perspectives. Mary’s research reflections and lessons have helped me develop a new format to address research skills and projects this year. And thank goodness for Debbie’s end-of-the-year-lesson ideas–they saved my sanity last June.
From Brendan I heard about one of my new favorite people–teacher, ELA CCSS-guru, and blogger extraordinaire–Dave Stuart, Jr. as well as other timely resources. Elizabeth provided useful information about SBA interim assessments and item writing. Scott’s infographic syllabus and writing advice also continues to inform my work.
My previous district started talking about PBIS and Standards Based Grading a number of years ago. These movements were ultimately pushed to the back-burner in favor of new foci. Johanna’s take on SBG has revitalized my interest though, and Aaron’s information regarding restorative practices has me contemplating how my school could add to their current efforts. Numerous discussions regarding relationships including those by Alisa and Erin also constantly serve to remind me how to be my best teacher-self.
Beyond providing occasional interview team input, we don’t really get to select our colleagues. For better or for worse, they are our team, our partners in school efforts, our people. Sometimes, however, it is nice to choose who we get to work with. Though I didn’t actually pick them, the people who decide to apply and accept this work are people I WOULD CHOOSE–hardworking, empathetic, inspired and inspiring. It is so refreshing to be surrounded by consistently positive attitudes and ideas.
For various reasons, my new teaching job is more manageable than my previous one. My email inbox does not overflow, class sizes are small, and students are well-behaved. It would be easy to become complacent in this position–to show up, put in my time, and go home; to do the same thing day after day and year after year. Though I am a self-directed learner, this blogging project provides an extra impetus keep exploring new ideas and methods.
A number of WA State Teacher Leaders are hired as Tweeters. I am still a tweeting-novice but have enjoyed participating in some weekend “chats.” This is an area of desired growth for me.
If any of this sounds appealing to you, I encourage you to apply! Click here to see more information and to access the application.