Day 29: How have I changed? Let me count the ways @teachthought #reflectiveteacher #reflectiveteaching

Day 29: How have I changed? Let me count the ways @teachthought #reflectiveteacher #reflectiveteaching

Day 29

How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

This one could take a month to really respond to, but who has that kind of time. Now and then, I like to read from my original philosophy of education to see what I was thinking as I graduated from college with all the enthusiasm, immaturity, and complete lack of awareness of a first-year teacher.

Unfortunately, I think that original document resides buried somewhere in boxes of notes and memorabilia in the basement somewhere, so I can only imagine what I had written. I know that I rewrote my philosophy in 2010, and I have updated it a few times since then.

I will say that my basic reason for becoming a teacher has stayed the same. I believe that teachers have the ability to truly shape the world one student at a time. If this power is used for good, we can help to produce and forget a wonderful citizenship filled with intellectuals who love to learn.

Naive, right? But I’m sticking to that because if I lose hope in that, then I don’t know what I’m doing this for.

Here are some basic changes I see, however, despite the core principal remaining the same:

My pessimism has risen. I see that the forces working against a thoughtful, intelligent populace are powerful, and it is a constant struggle to remain focused.

I watched a seminar when I first started teaching about how we shouldn’t shoot skinny rabbits (metaphorically speaking) and I see way too many of my colleagues wasting so much of their time shooting skinny rabbits instead of focusing on the big picture.

I used to shoot skinny rabbits. I used to try to discipline and force students into this mold. I thought I could change them. One hour a day in my classroom is not enough to shape behavior, so I have molded my classroom into a space where the onus is on them and not me. I still get frustrated from time to time when students don’t do their work, but I’m much more chill about it than I used to be. I talk to some students individually. I work hard on not blaming everyone for isolated problems. I try not to be a hypocrite.

StuhrMuseum2The biggest change that I always point to as pivotal in my teaching career is the Nebraska Writing Project.  As a young teacher, taking my first summer institute taught me some basic tenets about being an educator that have transformed me. First of all, the best teachers of writing are writers themselves. I am still disappointed to this day at how few of my English teacher colleagues write. I learned so much by writing with my students and completing the same assignments that I give them. It was a paradigm shift to see that prompts and topics that I would give were very difficult to write about.

I also learned that teachers are professionals and we have authority over our teaching. Prior to this, I was a lowly classroom servant of the administration and curriculum. After taking the writing project, I became an advocate for teachers teaching. We are the professionals. We have a duty to stand up for ourselves and the choices we make. I became a different person as a teacher because of this.

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High School Senior. Clueless.

 

Then: Third year teaching:

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3rd year of Teaching in Humboldt with my son

Today:

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Me and My Cousin summer 2014

 

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