It's May! We all know what May means, flowers, warmer temps, Memorial Day, school year winding down and ... end of the year evaluations.
How does an individual improve?
This question can fit many walks of life. As a college golfer I read books on the mental approach. I diligently practiced. I repeatedly put myself in a position of being uncomfortable and I was constantly assessing my strengths and weaknesses.
As a teacher I found improving to be different. First, I had to want to improve. It's easy to say you want to improve, but it must be genuine, you need to be open to criticism and NOT make excuses. All people can improve, the question is how.
True Story. I was in my 6th year teaching. I had 9 boys and 16 girls in my classroom. I remember it like it was yesterday. Of the nine boys I had zero boys that embraced being a "positive" leader. I can't tell you how many motivational talks I had with that class. I was constantly trying to encourage students to step up and be positive leaders. As the year wore on I found that I was contacting parents more with problems (not solutions), and becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of "personal" growth. I stepped back and analyzed. I asked myself a hard question, could I be part of the problem? The very next week I met with another teacher who I viewed as having fantastic discipline/management procedures. After observing and talking with the teacher I adjusted and tweaked my approach. I had to leave my "bubble" to improve.
This is where you may sense some frustration from me. During my 15 years in education most of what I have observed has taken place in a large square room. Day-in and day-out teachers are on an "island of one" teaching 25+ students. Then teachers go to the lounge and decompress. Finally, at the end of the day teachers go home, grade papers and make sure they are organized for the next day. This can become repetitive, I must ask the question, how does an individual improve?
This is what the most common answers are to that question: 1) Teachers collaborate and work together 2) Teachers attend PD days a few times per year. 3) Teachers take classes to renew certificates and stay current.
These are the most common answers, I believe these are all small ways to improve, but I don't believe this will create sustained, significant growth. Sustained improvement or growth typically means two things: continual and revisited.
This is how I believe improvement happens:
1) Analyze yourself and be open to critiquing from others
2) Observe fellow teachers
3) Read for improvement
4) Take risks, try new things
5) Find PD that fits your needs
I happen to be a goal oriented person and I push myself to complete my goals. I could be the exception and not the rule, but I don't think I am. I think goals are important and they push people to meet their potential.
So I ask the question again, how does an individual improve?
A very good friend of mine recently said this, "If you want to improve you need to put yourself in uncomfortable positions." I thought about this and I agreed. If you are never uncomfortable in what you do you are probably playing it safe.
Are you willing to leave your comfort zone?
NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:
Monday, May 6th: Teacher Appreciation Week Begins!
Tuesday, May 7th: String Team 4pm
Tuesday, May 7th: 5th grade Band Recruiting concert at Warner 10am
Tuesday, May 7th: Board Work Session 5:30pm
Wednesday, May 8th: Walk-To-School Day
Wednesday, May 8th: Grades 3-5 assembly with SAU track
Thursday, May 9th: 5th grade Instrument Fitting
Thursday, May 9th: School Improvement Meeting 4pm
Thursday, May 9th: Kids Hope Dinner
Friday, May 10th: PM Drill
Articles Worth Reading:
Are Grades utterly useless? shared by @CurtRees
Mental Hospital to Cult Hero shared by @8Amber8
The 7 Most & Least Effective Ways to Improve Student Achievement shared by @KleinErin
Gamifying Student Engagement shared by @twhitford
Is it time to ditch the phrase 21st Century Teacher? shared by @MrPowersCMS
Teacher Observations Aren't the Only Way to Improve Schools by @PeterMDewitt
Rethinking Difficult Parents shared by @casas_jimmy
Minecraft will get their attention by @CurtRees
12 Things Kids Want From Their Teachers by @AngelaMaiers
5 Core Skills Your Life Depends On by @marcandangel
What Goes Around Comes Around academictips.org
Running with your spouse and what it means by@NewbieChronicles
5 Ways For Teachers To Get Quality Summer PD shared by @DrSpikeCook
The Objective of Education is Learning, Not Teaching shared by @NMHS_Principal
The Leader Podcast (8 min) shared by @dreambition
8 Educational Apps to Create Digital Portfolios shared by @NMHS_Principal
12 Advanced iPad Tips All Educators Should Learn shared by @MrPowersCMS
7 Ways to Use Your iPad in the Classroom shared by @KimGriesbach
Videos Worth Watching:
Power of Twitter Chats (31 min) shared by @Joe_Mazza
Know or Go with Ellen (6 min) @TheEllenShow
One of the All Time Greatest Stories! JMac (5 min)
TedTalk on Sifteo Cubes (7 min)