This is the time of year that I’m deeply reflective; there is an intense mulling that occurs while looking back at the year, and embued with hope for what is to come. For some reason, since I was a young girl, I’ve functioned with an August to June calendar, with July & August being a nowhere-land in between.
I’ve tried to be pensive in the deep, dark days of late December, to no avail. It’s not me. Instead, now is the end of my year. This is when I think about who I’m becoming, what matters to me, and changes I’d like, or need, to make.
I realize that over the past 10 months I’ve become a completely different person than who I was a year ago. This revelation became clear when I decided to update my resume a few weeks ago, and had a hard time capturing who I was in a word document, when so much of who I am, as an educator, is digital and on the web. The most pronounced change that has occurred is that instead of focusing on content, my teaching now uses content to foster and develop life-long learning skills in my students.
A year ago, I wasn’t on Twitter. Now my PLN is invaluable. If every other form of PD was taken away from me, I would continue to grow and learn because of the people and resources at my finger tips on Twitter.
A year ago, I didn’t really blog. Now it’s part of who I am. It’s how I actively try to make sense of the world. And it has connected me to people who challenge my thinking and help me to be a better teacher.
This is what my classroom has looked like for a number of years, and until this year, I didn’t understand the limitations it poses. It works well for students to sit and face the front of the classroom, but there’s little room for activities and projects, and it doesn’t facilitate conversations or collaboration.
This is what my classroom will look like next year. With this configuration, I can sit as many students, actually more, than before, but with fewer tables. However, this formation is actually conducive to discussion and collaboration. In the middle of the room will be a rug where we have “circle time” (a term my students came up with & love).
I’m hoping to paint the table tops with idea paint, creating a whiteboard surface for my students to write out chemical equations or brainstorm ideas. We can then take a photo of it and upload it to our wiki. No more paper.
In the fall, we will still continue to try to change the world. My grade 11’s and I are going to be learning about human trafficking. Normally, I would’ve spent the summer researching and compiling all of my notes, so that I could be the “expert”. Not this year. Instead, I’ll be learning alongside them and from them.
I have to admit that I am greatly anticipating the fall and the adventure it will bring. This is the first year I can actually say that. Most years, I’ve been exhausted, cranky, and have barely managed to drag myself over the finish-line at the end of June. But not this year.
I think 21st century education has the power to change the lives of my students, as well as my own, if I just have the courage to let it.
I absolutely loved how you put that this coming year you will be learning alongside your students. Your students will directly see that learning never stops in life!
That’s certainly my hope! One of the most important things I’ve learned this past year is that I can learn so much from my students.
This is your resume: https://shelleywright.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/june/
Anyone who doesn’t get that isn’t someone you want to work for. I think I’ve said this on your blog before, but I wish that I could have been a student in your class!
At least here I get to learn along with you too:-)
Thanks, Dave! I love reading your blog too. It was actually one of the first blogs I ever subscribed to. I love how you continue to push the edge and share that growth with others.
Awesome post, Shelley! You are living proof that the best teachers are the best learners. You are certainly modeling life long learning for your students. Have an awesome summer!
Thanks, I really appreciate your kinds words!
Go for it! I know it can be scary to let go of that “expert” position, but it’s so phenomenally worth it. Letting go allows us to show them what learning should look like, because we are already passionate about learning and have had lots of practice. It’s the best modeling there is. I’ll be cheering for you, my friend! Go get ’em! **Amber C.
I am trying to start a research project in my secondary school to see what the effect using Twitter, etc. in the classroom will have on their learning in different subjects. Not sure where to start though and with which subject/lesson. Any ideas? Is there any research already out there? Sounds great what you are doing.
I haven’t used Twitter in my classroom, but I know there are a number of educators who have. You might want to check out Larry Ferlazzo’s website. If anyone has resources on it, it would be him. http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/
What an inspiring and motivating post. Your thoughts and your attitude toward your profession serve as a reminder that successful schools are, at their best, communities of learners. Enjoy your summer and best wishes for what I am sure will be your best school year ever.
Thanks, Todd! I think you’ve highlighted of the most important things occurring in education today. Viewing our classrooms, and schools, as communities of learners is absolutely essential. It’s only then that we can learn from, and with, one another.
The best teachers are learners along with their students. I like to think that we as teachers are modelling the idea that we are continually learning for our students. This contiunual learning has to be a natural drive that we have as teachers and can’t be “put on”. As teachers we need to “let go” a bit and let the learning take place, because it will.
Have a great summer and thanks for the thoughts and observations.
Thanks, Don! I absolutely agree. It involves the difficult practice of moving from the “all-knowing guru” to the facilitator of our student’s learning. But the journey is completely worthwhile.
Thanks Shelley for your post. I am contemplating about starting to blog. I really like how you reflect on your past year and are looking forward to the new one. I think we need to be reflectors and I totally agree that the best educators are those that can learn alongside our students.
Blogging has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying things that I’ve done in the last year. It has helped me grow substantially, as a teacher and learner. I would highly recommend it to anyone!
Just found your blog via your twitter posts about being stuck in the airport. I love how we wonder around bumping into the same people, kind of like a small town yet not. I have enjoyed reading your posts and just wanted to mention that if you are looking for an alternative to idea pant is white mactac (or even clear). Cover table top with it and you can use dry erase markers and erase. When it gets too dirty just take it off and put more on. Does leave anything behind, easy to do. Just thought I would pass it on.