End of Year 16…

Wow…I just completed my 16th year of teaching middle school math…is it a milestone? a qualification for being crazy? ūüôā Ha ha ha…honestly, it is a great milestone for me. ¬†It’s about halfway through my teaching career, give or take a few years. Heck I don’t even know when I will be able to retire let alone when the state says I can. But I am not thinking about that because I am in this for the long haul, this is not a job for me, it is a career, it is my calling.

Teachers relish the summer to refresh, recharge and reignite their passion for teaching. We don’t lose it, but it sure gets beat down throughout the school year and¬†sometimes we lose sight of our love for it. We use summer time¬†to read books (educational or not), research new methods to teach our subject, start planning for the following year, take classes, attend/present at conferences, reflect on the past school year, rewrite curriculum, relax, sleep, connect with family and friends, travel, pick up or continue a hobby, doctor/dentist/eye appointments, etc. all those things that get pushed off for planning and grading during the school year. Some of us even have a second (or third) job that we do during the summer to help pay bills, to save more for retirement or even just for our “fun” money, so we may not have summer’s off entirely from any form of work. ¬†And even more of us tutor students throughout the school year and summer as well.

Teachers do a lot of awesome things and we get tired like everyone else, but we need to always be able to come back to our WHY…WHY we became a teacher, WHY we do what we do. If we focus on our why, we can continue to reach more students, touch more lives and push the learning curve as far as we can. Summer allows us the time to reconnect with our WHY and redefine it as we continually grow as educators.

So for those who will say they wish they had summer’s off…consider the work we do throughout the year, the hours we put in with your children, who become our children, the sweat and tears we shed over the good and the bad we see each day. Consider the time we put into honing our craft and teaching our subject(s) and the time we put into teaching students to be good people, to take chances, to be different, to not be afraid to fail, but to learn from it and grow. ¬†We not only push to get all of our curriculum in the allotted days, we also stress so many important things behind the scenes. Like the day your student couldn’t focus because they were upset about a misunderstanding with a friend, and I noticed and pulled them aside to listen and really hear them. Or the day that your student came in so excited to show me what they created¬†in their free time and I take an honest interest because I care. Or the day a student thanks another in front of the class for taking the time to help them with a problem, and the student they thanked was someone who typically struggles. Or the day we debated over one problem in class for a whole period and I sent them home frustrated and angry we didn’t come to an answer, only to have over half the class return the next day telling me they spent an hour working to figure it out.

There is so much more to teaching than just a degree or some classes we took…and for many of us, we can’t put it into words, we can’t quantify it because it just is. It is our life, it is our passion, it is our love, it is our drive…it is teaching.

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I need blogging in my life

I know it’s been almost a year since my last blog post…I’ve thought about blogging so many times, but never sat down to do it. Then the gap between my last post got longer and longer and it became overwhelming to write a post.¬† My year last year was different for me and my way of dealing with all the changes was to pull within myself. I felt that I didn’t have much to share because I wasn’t really teaching in the same manner as the past.¬† I¬†was in a different job,¬†started a home business as a Young Living Distributor and my non-work life was going very well.¬† It was a lot of changes, most for the good, but change isn’t always easy regardless of bad or good.

What I found during that time was that I missed the reflection that blogging brought me, the ability to think about my day in a straightforward manner and to be honest about the changes that I want to make in my classroom and in my lessons.¬† I missed the interactions through Twitter a lot and realized I need to be able to find a balance between work, coaching, essential oils, and my online and personal life.¬† I don’t think I have it all figured out just yet, but I am going to give it a good go this year!

I am about to start my 16th year of teaching and I am¬†returning to the same job as last year as¬†a MS¬†Math Specialist. I will teach one section of 6th grade Math, one section of 8th grade gifted (Geometry), one pull out 6th grade section (my intervention class) and co-teach both¬†a 7th grade and 8th grade math class…basically a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I am excited about doing more teaching and I really had fun co-teaching last year.¬†I am also coaching swimming, which keeps my evenings and weekends busy, but I still love doing it and I am not ready to stop.¬† I am continuing to build my essential oils business, the effect they have had on my life and my health in the last year is amazing and I can’t help but share my love for them.¬† And my personal life is going very well.¬† I am ready to tackle this year, excited to get started and looking forward to growing more as an educator.

Reminder of Growth

In my spare time I coach swimming and have for longer than I’ve been teaching.¬† I was a swimmer through college and I loved every minute of it.¬† Coaching is a way to continue to do something I enjoy and to fill some of those many hours of spare time us teachers have laying around. ūüôā

Today we had our first meet, I missed yesterday because of the math conference, but wanted to see my swimmers swim today.¬† After the first few swims, I saw some droopy faces…as I inquired, swimmers stated they were upset they weren’t getting all best times. Ahhh…yes, they wanted to reach that mastery level, beating their previous best time with a new one.¬† However, they were forgetting a few important details:

*Their previous best times came from their rested Championship meet in February/March.

*They had only been in the water 3 weeks for a total of 14 practices.  We had a pipe burst and it cancelled 3 practices.

*In the fall, our first meet happens after 5 weeks of practice simply because it’s a longer season, but it allows for more preparation and practice.

What I found interesting was the swimmers were forgetting that they weren’t adequately prepared for the meet and were holding on to the same expectations they have on themselves at the end of the season.¬† I kept having to remind them of the above and that this wasn’t a meet for a best time (mastery), this was a meet to practice racing, putting into a race what we have been practicing and to get feedback to improve for our first long course meet in 2 more weeks.

You see, I noticed that FEEDBACK was MY ultimate desire here.  I wanted them to know this meet was about feedback so they have a focus for practice the next two weeks, yet many of them wanted to achieve that best time right off the bat without all the practice behind them.

In the future I need to prep them better for the expectations of this meet.¬† We talked about it and I sent an email to parents, but I think it’s too easy to be excited about the meet and to forget what the focus is.¬† This is no different than my math classroom…I need to make sure at the beginning of the year, that I am clear about their formative assessments and that the feedback they get is more important, which is why it won’t have a grade on it.¬† Connecting back to swimming, it would be like swimming a meet but not having the clock visible to see their final time, but to focus on the aspects of racing, their technique and the feedback they receive.

I look forward to working with my swimmers to focus on a growth mindset the same way that I am working with my students on it and I want them to focus on feedback and not just the time they receive.

8/30

Take A Day to Reflect

After I attend a conference or a class or present, I like to take time to take a step back and reflect.¬† I wrote down book titles, links to websites and curricular materials…I needed to go through it and hone in on what is important and what I wanted to do with it all.¬† I also wanted some time to reflect on both of my presentations, take in the feedback given (Wisconsin Math Conference had 2-ply reflection forms so I was able to walk away with the feedback right there!) and make changes so I didn’t forget about them for the future.

Note: Insert feedback from presentations here when I am home with them in front of me!

After my morning of reflecting, I ran some errands and stopped at a few garage sales. Didn’t find anything of terrible significance, but a few fun items for upcoming birthdays and graduations.

One of the things I have learned that is important to me is to make sure I build in my personal reflection time when I need it.¬† Sometimes¬†it looks different, but that doesn’t matter because it is time for¬†ME to reflect how I need to reflect…it could be on a week’s worth of lessons or an activity and how to improve it or a presentation and how I can¬†make it more meaningful for teachers.¬† ¬†Or it could be on interactions with students, parents, co-workers or admin….regardless of the reason for the reflection, it is important to me that I do it.¬† Sometimes I blog about it here, sometimes I reflect personally, but either way it helps me grow and continue to learn about myself and the world around me.

Do it…take time for you, reflect on something that happened this week…don’t harp on it, but reflect honestly and consider what you learned and how you can apply it to the future.

7/30