Monday, September 1, 2014

Are you who you were a year ago?

Funny how small things like a question posed
at Abercrombie and Fitch in a mall
in Albuquerque, NM can spur your thinking. (2014)
It's been said that challenge spurs growth. New situations shake us out of our routine, and lend us new eyes to see things anew. Once in a zone of comfort, though, it can be more than a challenge to shake out of it or take that step into The Unfamiliar.

Those of you who know me will not be surprised to learn that stepping out of my comfort zone is precisely what I've done this school year. After 13 years in either an elementary or K-8 setting, I am back to my "roots" of teaching--at the highschool level. (Having K-12 TESOL licensure allows you to experience this wondrous dance.)

Change? You betcha.
Growth? In an almighty sense of the word.
A step out of the Comfort Zone? Neil Armstrong ain't got nothin' on this step.

One thing that is extraordinarily different for me this year, or at least this semester, though, is the fact that this is the very first year in 18 years of teaching that I do not have my own stand-alone class of students. I am co-teaching in all of my classes---and although they're similar thematically, it's a heavy content load for me. Not only am I learning how much content has to be covered in a single semester--Paleolithic Age through WWII in 80 days??? Wha...????---but I am also going to be uncovering and learning the ropes of co-teaching partnerships with a range of experienced and successful teachers.

Another distinctive gift is the fact that I am now working with many of my former students, ones I had taught during their elementary years. Some have changed mightily, while others are eerily reminiscent of their former selves, only bigger and with hormones. (Sigh.)

Needless to say, this semester will bring about myriad insights, so expect them to surface in this blog. Thoughts on co-teaching, differentiation strategies that can fit into well-established routines, having tough conversations, prioritizing skills and knowledge, balancing best practices in spite of testing rigors, and maintaining high expectations as part of a direct team will be on my mind. We also have several newcomers who were/ are directly involved with the immigration crisis at the border--yet another avenue of understanding. And of course, there will be thoughts and learning around opportunities for our language learners as older students preparing for their next level of life post-HS.

 I don't know about you, but I do love the opportunities brought on by change, and I'm pretty excited to be in this position. There are so many challenges, but so much to be grateful for. I didn't realize how much I needed a change in perspective, a different kind of push to my thinking, and how detrimental a comfort zone can sometimes be for one's creativity and lens.

As I filled out my self-assessment for our teacher evaluation last week, I was disheartened. Being honest with myself, I leveled my skills and abilities at "developing" (which is the lowest level) in the majority of areas. I had been increasingly successful the past few years, and had my routines down to achieve at much higher levels. I have much work to do--and while disheartened, I am also trying to be gentle with myself, remembering that we have only been in school 5 days. I have much growth ahead of me. And that also energizes me.

I will be reaching out to you, my readers, during this semester and year, and look forward to your suggestions, input, and advice. And as I do, ask yourself that question: Are you who you were a year ago? If not, good for you. :)

1 comment:

  1. 'Developing' is lowest level ?!

    Bullshabookie ! We all would do well to be 'developing'