Thursday, December 13, 2018

Reviewing Your Career: What Matters?

A teaching career takes many twists and turns.

I started teaching like a windstorm. I had a strong view of what schools should be.

I have always enjoyed the question of what helps children think in deeper and stronger ways. I like pushing the boundaries of what is considered curriculum and good learning. I enjoy sparking students' creativity, problem solving, voice, and choice.

I have always been sensitive to critique, error, potential to do better, and team, yet when it comes to priorities, I have typically put the teaching and learning first.

During my career there have been know-it-all years of great confidence and pushing forward, and there have been years of defeat too when the challenges were great leading to steep learning curves and fortunately resulting in lots of new learning and better teaching.

The best times have been times when a child created and completed great work--projects and problem solving that resulted in a burst of student confidence, learning, and transformation. The aim of my teaching has been to help students move forward with strength, belief in themselves, and a wide view of the opportunities ahead, opportunities that match their dreams, passion, hopes, and interests--opportunities that help the children to live full, good lives.

My will to serve children and their families has always struggled with the question of how hard to push--while I don't want to push children or their families too much, I also don't want to miss the chance to help a child see that they can strive for better, push through a hard time or big challenge, and achieve well. The same is true for families as I know what we do as families greatly impacts children--the priorities we make, the love we share, and the times we create make a positive difference if we attend to important routines, relationship building, nurturing, and lots of love.

The years ahead will be years of deepening my ability to serve students, colleagues, and families--it will be less about creative bursts and more about deep learning, care, and attention. I am surrounded by earnest, dedicated, talented, and good people--people who learn, teach, love, and care for one another continually. I am also apart of an ever-changing, always evolving teaching/learning community--the kind of community that takes the potential for betterment seriously and the kind of community that continually strives for better. That's a positively challenging environment to work in.

Specifically, deepening my work will involve slowing down, listening more, and attending to the important details of the job--details that help children to happily learn in a warm, welcoming setting. These details will find me learning more about how to teach to students' hearts, brains, dreams, and needs. I will continually be asking the question: What's most important in this situation, and like all teachers, I'll continually prioritize about how to spend time carefully with the children, families, and colleagues who are part of the learning/teaching team.

The years now will be marked by the understanding that no teacher can do or be all. We all make difficult choices all the time about where we will devote our time, dollars, and energy, and where we will let others lead and do the work.

As I review my career, I realize that what I believe is important is that we follow our hearts with regard to who we should be and what we should do as educators. We should recognize our gifts and talents as well as our challenges and burdens as we travel down the teaching road. Further we need to reach out to one another to do the good work possible and honor the variety of strengths, vision, questions, and need that our colleagues, the students, and their families bring to school too. It's impossible to do good work single handedly as strong schools use productive struggle to create just-right synergy and harmony to forward the good teaching and learning possible.

So day-after-day I'll strive to do what I can to contribute to a worthy, positive learning/teaching community. I'll honor the talents, dedication, and care of our learning/teaching community members and continue to hone my craft too to do what is right and good in this environment. A teaching career is a challenging, ethical, and positive career--one that has the potential to make positive growth and change, one I'm committed to even though it's not always an easy path to follow.