Every time I think I am getting into the groove of this reflective thing using a blog, it happens. It is almost as inevitable as sunrise. Life happens, papers to grade happen, fatigue happens, the questions happen. What if I am writing to no one? What does it matter what a old veteran teacher thinks about? Am I really invested in reflection on what I do every day? So here I am, a few weeks further into the semester and a huge gap in my blog is staring me down. So I have decided to OWN that gap.
What has happened in the space of that time. Well, a lot, actually! I have gotten to know my 65 students a LOT better. I have even invested an entire day talking to their parents about them. (Parent/teacher conferences were last Thursday.) I have learned who likes to read and who likes to write……. and who likes to sleep. (Not too many, thankfully!) Every student has completed at least 2 essays by now and they have some pretty solid skills. I have learned which ones are baseball fans, sadly disappointed in their St. Louis Cardinals right now, and which ones are the “quiet watchers” in the room. It’s been delightful and always challenging to think about how I can get to know them better as the days and weeks go by.
In my gap I have also attended a lot of faculty “functions” including some PLC’s with colleagues. I have wrestled with some new tech tools including a new gradebook, new ways of using our Learning Management System (Love my EBackpack!) and which things work easiest with my students. I am even helping to teach a few new tricks to colleagues starting next week; that is always a pleasure to do. AND- I am surviving the upgrade to iOS-11 on the iPad platform that we work with daily in our 1:1 setting! (The kids make me smile as they grouse about “hating change”. I tell them they sound older than I am and we laugh about it!
So today George Couros had this question on his blog which I enjoy reading. It was, “How will teachers know when they have “arrived?” The short answer was really simple… we won’t because we won’t EVER arrive! Depressing? Not in the least. Just challenging because so often in life and in any career it is much more comfortable to “rest on one’s laurels (insert the word “backside” here) and think you actually have things down pat and coast a bit. Our students do it, and we do too! The comfort zone is called that for a reason… it’s nice to be comfortable. It’s nice to say, “I am stopping right here”. It’s okay to stop occasionally and look about at the place you have arrived at. But the kicker is, you have to then get up and get going again… and do it over and over. Teaching is becoming (or perhaps it always has been) a profession of constant stretching of one’s skills and adding new ones to the repertoire. It never stops. If anything, the rate of new ideas seems to me to be accelerating.
It makes me wonder how we all keep up much less question if we ever actually arrive. Teachers already function in one of the jobs with the most amount of overtime attached to it according to a recent article that crossed my radar last week. According to the research the average teacher puts in somewhere between 12.5 and 12.9 extra hours per week. I would bet in the private sector (those who work without the benefit of a union contract) it may run even higher.) This is not a post that is here to complain about that, but it does explain a bit where my blogging time may have gone.
Therefore, I am recommitting to posting, as it will make me stop, look around, and reflect on what I am doing. Hope you have had time to do so as well, dear readers, whomever you may be.