Friday, December 19, 2014

Reflecting on 2014

This week as one of my middle schoolers was struggling on a blog post, she questioned her ability to deeply reflect. She said, "I'm not that deep" to which I responded, "You are, keep digging."  I went on to show her my blog and she was amazed at the length of my posts - most of my students don't write more than five sentences.  I also told her that I wouldn't expect her to do anything that I wouldn't be willing or able to do myself.  Do as I do, not as I say.

After that conversation with the middle schooler I realized that at one point, I too perhaps didn't think I was that deep, even though I didn't exactly think of it that way at the time. Blogging can be challenging.  It took me a few months before I mustered the courage to take the plunge.  My main reason for not blogging sooner was that I felt I had nothing to write about.  I was also worried about my writing skills, about exposing my thoughts to the world, about being so vulnerable.  Once I started my blog, I decided that for the 2014-15 school year, I would blog at least once a week.  Thanks to the #reflectiveteacher blogging challenges, I was able to exceed my goal and I am a better teacher for it.  Furthermore, as I connect to other educators I am more purposeful about connecting with my students and the work I assign.  

Today is the last school day of 2014 and as I reflect on this calendar year, I will follow the prompt I gave my high schoolers this morning: "Reflecting on 2014, identify three good things, two things you are especially happy about and one thing you wish would have been different".  

Three good things are Twitter, Twitter, Twitter....and did I mention Twitter?  Thanks to Twitter I am connected to educators beyond my schools' walls, I am more reflective and my teaching is much more than about teaching English communication skills.  I am not only concerned about the quantifiable, but about the qualitative that makes our life complete.  I am no longer teaching English as a Second Language.  I am now teaching and empowering students whose second language happens to be English.  I have learned (and I am teaching) that stumbling blocks are usually stepping stones.

Two things I am especially happy about are this blog and about the positive phone calls I have been making. I don't have huge numbers of followers or readers, but I have found blogging to be very therapeutic.  I am also happy that my students are blogging.  While many of them whine and struggle, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I hope all of them will be able to see their gains at the end the school year.  As far as the positive calls, last year I decided I would include it on my PDP. Then, this summer I joined #goodcallsmovement on Twitter and my PLN has kept me accountable.  Parents really appreciate the contact, students love knowing that I care, but what's most significant is that I'm on a quest to find good so I can make those calls.  I make a minimum of two positive calls a week.  I won't lie, some weeks are easier than others, but if I seek the good, I find it.

One thing I wish would have been different?  It's hard narrowing it down to one, but I guess the top would be more reading time.  I ask my students and my own children to read daily, but I don't always do it myself.  Sure you can say that reading blogs from Twitter is reading, but there's nothing like reading a good book.  Reading for fun and inspiration, not because it's part of a lesson or professional development.  This is something I've slacked off on and need to get back on track.  Not because I have to but because I want to and most importantly because I want my students and children to "do as I do, not as I say."

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

#BestYearEver



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