Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reflection for First Year Teachers

"What would you tell your first year teacher self? was the question posed by +Barbara Warren Madden @barbarawmadden to kick start the #sunchat topic and oh my was I excited for this chat! What excited me the most was the wealth of ideas that flowed openly, honestly and freely! It was both inspiring and uplifting! In looking back at the #sunchat timeline for this discussion I chose to capture the following as a reminder for our first year teacher selves.

Reflect, Relationships, Refine & Repeat

Reflection feeds my growth not only professionally, but personally as well. Reflection is at the core of why I participate in Twitter chats and write blog posts! Chatting and writing not only keep me rooted in why I do what I do (teach), but they both provide opportunities for me to stretch and grow (learn).

What I loved the most from this chat was the repeated emphasis on the power of reflection.  Here are just a few of the fabulous tweets embracing reflection:
  • Reflect & adjust, reflect & adjust, reflect get the idea. @UKmomo4 
  • Ask this Q (question), did my words & actions today attack or preserve the dignity of child? @DavidGeurin
  • It took me a long time to put aside my pain to see theirs--they developmentally can't grasp how they hurt. @SraSpanglish
  • Such a powerful & important reflection - & PLN can lift us out of our pain/struggles - new lens. @TdiShelton
  • Thankful Twitter + PLN + our struggles let us share meaningful reflections. @ashleyhhurley 
  • We must remember our calling. @the_explicator +Chris Crouch 

I am confident that each of us left this #sunchat discussion "remembering our calling."  In my darkest hour (year 6 of teaching), I turned within to remind myself why I was an educator and my inner voice replied with a simple answer, "to build relationships and learning will follow." To echo the words of @ReadWriteBlue2, "am I the only weirdo that cries because of the support here?" Well, while you may not cry, the words below will most definitely inspire our first year teacher selves:
  • Management flows thru the the connections you make with students as a whole. @1925MP
  • I am a small person (5ft nothing) teach HS I've learned intimidation, size and yelling have nothing to do with "management". @differNtiated4u
  • I'm 6', some of my students are 6'5" & outweighing me by 100lbs. Rapport & mutual respect outweigh intimidation every time. @hernick_
  • It is about the relationships you have fostered, not about the yelling. @Studentschamp
  • I have found that students will only care about learning if they believe that their teachers care about them. @NicholasFerroni
  • Try to think before you speak. No matter what is going on your words impact a life & should intend kindness. @JenaiaMorane

It was refreshing to have so many educators admit their failures, but even more impressive was how all of these educators chose to fail forward.  Here are a few things we would say to our first year selves regarding failure:
  • I tried to emulate but had to find my style. @docbobLA
  • Definitely OK to fail. I have learned so much from failure-& I always tell my students: "to err is human. @danamaloney94
  • It is funny how we learn not from our successes but from our failures. @zk0952
  • I remember trying to be "tough" guy the first year.  I failed miserably. It just wasn't my thing. @mc_bossy
  • The 1st year I was so concerned with managing that I failed miserably. Cultivating relationships was winner. @senoraCMT
  • Forgive yourself. Impact of a teacher can never be measured in one lesson/day; students learn who you are & how you care. @danamaloney94

Teaching and learning is cyclic.  What I love most about #sunchat are the repeat educators that show up weekly.  I am blessed to participate and learn from such a supportive PLN.  Gone are the days of "one and done" or "sit and get" learning.  Now are the days of seek and find in order to meet the needs of students.  When repeating the process we must remind ourselves to find humor along the way and to carefully surround ourselves by those that will lift us up.  I love the following words by Bethany Hill and Patti Jones:
  • Don't take yourself too serious! Laugh with your kids! Laugh at your mistakes! Tell them stories & be personal. @bethhill2829
  • Stay away from negative staff they are toxic, find someone who likes their job as they are infectious @shspjones
These are constant reminders to keep in the forefront of every educator's mind, be it a first year or veteran teacher! @i2Learn shared this amazing poster from @venspired +Venspired Learning reminding all of us how we should embrace teaching and learning.

*For those that do not know, #sunchat is a Twitter chat that occurs every Sunday at 8am CST.  Topics are posed "Edcamp style" (Click HERE for what that means). The moderators are @barbarawmadden, @mssackstein@JayhawkTN, @JamieArmin and sometimes me:-)