Friday, January 28, 2011

The Value of Self-Reflection

The Value of Self-Reflection - Any Time Of Year, It's Important To Self-Reflect
Examining What Worked And What Failed In The Past Can Lead To Future Triumphs

By Beth Lewis

In a profession as challenging as teaching, honest self-reflection is key. That means that we must regularly examine what has worked and what hasn't in the classroom, despite how painful it can sometimes be to look in the mirror.

Then take your answers and turn them into positive, resolute statements that give you concrete goals on which to focus immediately. Be honest, work hard, and watch your teaching transform for the better!
Ask Yourself These Tough Questions - And Be Honest!

* Where did I fail as a teacher in the past? Where did I succeed?
* What is my top teaching goal for the coming year?
* What can I do to make my teaching more fun while adding to my students'
learning and enjoyment?
* What can I do to be more proactive in my professional development?
* What resentments do I need to resolve in order to move forward more
optimistically and with a fresh mind?
* What types of students do I tend to ignore or do I need to spend more time
* Which lessons or units am I only continuing to perform out of habit or
* Am I being a cooperative member of my grade level team?
* Are there any aspects of the profession that I am ignoring out of fear of
change or lack of knowledge? (i.e. technology)
* How can I increase valuable parental involvement?
* Have I done enough to foster a productive relationship with my administrator?
* Do I still enjoy teaching? If not, what can I do to increase my enjoyment in
my chosen profession?
* Do I bring additional stress upon myself? If so, how can I decrease or
eliminate it.
* How have my beliefs about learning and pedagogy changed over the years?
* What minor and/or major changes can I make to my academic program in order to
directly increase my students' learning?

What Happens If You Refuse To Self-Reflect
Put earnest effort and pure intention into your self-reflection. You don't want to be one of those stagnant teachers that drably presents the same ineffective and outdated lessons year after year.

The unexamined teaching career can lead to becoming just a glorified babysitter, stuck in a rut and no longer enjoying your job! Times change, perspectives change, and you must change in order to adapt and remain relevant in the ever-changing world of education.

Often it's difficult to get motivated to change when you have tenure and "can't be fired" but that's precisely why you must undertake this effort on your own. Think about it while you're driving or doing the dishes. It doesn't matter where you self-reflect, only that you do it earnestly and energetically.
Examine Your Teaching - Any Time Of Year
One of the best things about teaching is that every school year offers a fresh start. Make the most of this new beginning - any time of year! - and move ahead with the confidence that you are mindful and motivated to be the best teacher you can be!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Teacher's Story

Something that I want to share.....

Like most teacher, Mrs. Thompson looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. But that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard. He didn’t play well with other children, his clothes were messy and he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would take delight in making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers. In that school, teachers were required to review each child’s past records. Mrs. Thompson reviewed Teddy’s file last. She was in for a surprised.

 Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around.
 His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”
 His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”
 Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open in it the middle of the other presents. Some of the students started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some perfume on her wrist.

Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mother used to.”

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading and writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children.

Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in his class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of “teacher’s pets”.

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note: he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Then four years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer – the letter was signed, Theodre F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn’t end there. You see, in yet another letter that spring, Teddy said he’d met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the place at the wedding that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what ? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs.Thompson’s ear,

 “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said,

 Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

50 Reasons To Love Your Job As A Teacher

50 reasons to love your job as a teacher

  1. Sharing my experiences
  2. Helping inexperienced teachers solve problems
  3. The ability to help children achieve their best
  4. Inspiring them not only academically but personally
  5. Getting up on my stage and performing for them, too
  6. The thrill of a good and well thought out lesson is incomparable
  7. The kids’ energies; their inquisitiveness makes me want to go and teach them, and push them harder
  8. I love the instant feedback I get from my students about my own performance, even when they don’t realize they’re doing it
  9. Being able to interact with kids who are mostly good and do try to do what’s expected of them
  10. Sharing my enthusiasm for my subject matter – you should hear me talk to them about why I love Mesopotamia, even more than the ever popular Egypt!
  11. I also enjoy seeing their growth over the nine months I have them; they come into middle school as scared elementary students and leave at the end of the year, as (mostly) prepared 7th grader
  12. I love learning and I love the interaction between professor and students
  13. My coworkers are great
  14. I enjoy all of the funny stories that my job provides, my job is never ever boring
  15. When I am finally able to actually teach, I feel very rewarded when that little light bulb goes off
  16. Teaching grad school, my students are amazingly dedicated teachers, I have the opportunity to travel across the United States helping teachers and schools work at the grassroots level to improve students lives
  17. Working with the students; each week, I am invited to do demonstration lessons in K-12 classrooms — I love the range, I love the challenge, and I really love the kids
  18. I feel smarter every day that I come home from my job; it almost makes me feel guilty that I get paid for this!
  19. Facilitating games
  20. Being able to explore diverse issues and situations
  21. The challenge of teaching a second language in the 21st century
  22. I love getting to know the kids and I especially love having siblings come up and watching the family grow; it is a real privilege to be part of people’s lives like that
  23. The rare occasion they come back for a visit, it is a joyful reunion
  24. The freedom of the job; I used to be in a cube job where I had to punch a timeclock all the time
  25. I have control over my job — I decide what and when I teach, I decide if I am going to stay late, I can take my work home if needed (Though I don’t do that as often as I used to)
  26. My bosses listen
  27. I like working with teenagers, plus, I learn self assertiveness from teenagers.
  28. I get to work with books, which I love
  29. I honestly and truly believe that teaching is what I was born to do; maybe God really does plan our lives and if we follow that plan we will be very happy with our lives
  30. I seem to be good at it
  31. I get to explore stories and try new ideas and encourage others to do the same
  32. I love messing with their heads
  33. I love how wee the freshmen are and watching them grow into young ladies and gentlemen (in theory)
  34. I love the power of controlling lives - well, at least for an hour or so a day!
  35. I love listening to their ideas and seeing the way their minds work
  36. I love the push to keep learning, to keep discovering new questions and to help students discover their own questions
  37. I love kids and I love math; how many jobs can combine them? I guess the guy at the carnival who counts the kids getting on the rides, but he has to clean puke, so that’s out of the question
  38. Honestly, I can, in the space of 55 minutes, (on a good day) get booed for telling a bad joke, discuss planetary motion or the etymology of “radish,” clearly explain how a new-for-them algebra technique flows from their previous knowledge, give a challenging extension problem and get some enthusiasm going for it (for math!), help kids who just don’t get it to actually get it, and still find time for a quick game; I feel like a game show host who doesn’t have to fake it
  39. I enjoy sharing my love of learning and my passion for certain topics
  40. It goes beyond just teaching the material…it’s about making a personal connection with the students
  41. I love sharing the excitement of a good book — when I introduce it and start talking about it with excitement, the students can’t wait for me to start reading; when it’s time to stop reading and begin our next lesson, they beg me to read “just a little more”
  42. I also like seeing many of the cross-curricular connections students make
  43. Watching the students grow year after year
  44. Recruiting kids into my program
  45. Being creative with the music
  46. Transforming students from knowing nothing about how to play an instrument to being able to perform complicated (for them) music by the end of the year
  47. Demonstrating the value of long-range planning to achieve crazy cool results
  48. Guiding students to success, both individually and through group work, and marketing those successes
  49. It’s something like a mix of game show host, stand up comedian, dad, vaudeville juggler, and sports play-by-play commentator
  50. It has helped me to overcome my fear of public speaking; I’ve had students tell me that I should be an actor, preacher, and English teacher (I correct grammar frequently)
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