How have you changed as an educator since you first started?
A student wrote me a thank you note the other day. It said: “Thank you for becoming a better teacher than you were when I was a freshman.”
At first, I thought it was an insult. Then, I realized that it was a compliment (or I forced myself to see it as a compliment)! This student is now a senior, and has seen me grow as a teacher. One of the greatest things about teaching in a small school is that I have the same students for 4 years. I get to see them grow, and they get to see me grow! I know that I have changed in many ways since my first year of teaching five years ago. I decided to flex my creative muscles for this post and show this change in a fun way!
Management – My classroom management has improved greatly! Although I know I still have a ways to go, I have done a much better job of maintaining an environment of learning, even in the chaos of labs!
Reflective – Doing things like this blogging challenge has made me much more reflective about my teaching strategies. I think more about how I teach and change what I do if it isn’t effective.
Strong – A tough skin is sometimes necessary in this profession. My skin has gotten tougher in the last five years. I take less things personally, and work hard to understand where criticism comes from.
Knowledgeable – Not only have I learned more about educational pedagogy, I have increased my knowledge of my subject area in the last five years. I have spent many hours reading current science articles and working to apply them to classroom subjects. I have also gone to multiple professional development conferences and workshops in order to keep up-to-date on the latest information.
Organized – I can’t stress enough how important organization is! I am not a great organizer, and its a challenge every day. However, I feel much less frantic now that I used to! (And I can see my desk most days!)
Enthusiastic – Not much has changed here. I have always been a very enthusiastic person. I was a cheerleader in high school! But one thing that has changed in what I get enthusiastic about. I still love my content, but I now get more excited about new ways of teaching it, and seeing my students’ success in my classroom.
Happy – You would think that this would be a given, but I will fully admit that there were quite a few days my first year that I was NOT happy. It was terribly stressful, frustrating, and hard to be a first year teacher. I struggled daily. I’ll even admit that I cried weekly. Its really lucky I made it through! However, with the changes I’ve made through the years, I’ve lowered my stress (and added classes. . . how does that work?), relieved frustrations, and made my life much easier!
Local – After my first two years of teaching I became a “local”. For the first two years I commuted about 40 miles to and from school each day. Now that I live 3 miles from school, I have enjoyed becoming more connected with the community.
Expectations – As a new teacher, I didn’t really know what to expect. Now, I have very clear expectations as to what I will achieve personally, professionally, and academically each year, semester, and quarter. Although I’m still very flexible when I need to be, I have a better understanding of what my expectations should be.
Realistic – Teaching six classes and coaching a sport can be VERY time-consuming. I have become more realistic about what I can and can’t do due to time-constraints. When I started, I spend every weekend at school or working at home on school stuff. Now, I can usually cut it down to one weekend a month. Although I love doing new and exciting things in class, I have realized that sometimes you have to just do your best with what you have!
Well, that was definitely challenging! Now, I look forward to how I will change in the future!