I’ve been doing much self-reflection as a teacher these past few months. I think about the profession, how it’s changed, and where it’s headed. This reflection has forced me to come to terms with who I am in the classroom. As someone who has always struggled with self-confidence, I have spent much of my career second guessing myself as an educator, telling myself that I’m not equipped for the profession, that I’m not as good as my colleagues down the hall. Recently, we hired a very ambitious teacher at my grade level. She spent the summer creating hundreds of lessons, she can recite any math standard as it relates to the Common Core and uses formal/informal assessments on a daily basis to gauge where her students are academically. Yes, you read correctly, on a DAILY basis. Hers is a classroom of constant pre-testing, re-teaching, and post-testing. She has it down to a SCIENCE. Well, this would probably cause even the most seasoned teacher some level of discomfort, never mind one who struggles with confidence issues. So when the school year began, we all felt like we needed to step up our game. Which, in this profession is always a good thing. For me, however, it again brought up feelings of inadequacy, that perhaps the time had come for me to leave teaching to those better suited to this “science”.
Miraculously for me, and I would like to think for my students, something shifted for me a few weeks into the school year. I started reading more, I started to blog and most importantly, I started using Twitter more. There I joined several chats to develop my PLN. Little by little I have begun to feel validated, respected and encouraged by the teachers and administrators who I now turn to whenever I need support. Twitter is where I have learned more about myself as an educator, than in any PD I have ever taken. And the things that I have learned about myself are things that I embrace, rather than question.
Here’s what I embrace: 1) I am not someone who wants to teach the same way every year. I am creative, and when my creativity is squelched, I die a little inside. 2) The students who sit before us today are far different from the students of yesterday. 3) Assessment is important, but it cannot be what drives us in the classroom every day. Instead, we must strive to make learning meaningful, and dare I say it, a little bit fun. 4) Preparing students for high stakes testing day in and day out is not the reason I became an educator.
To say that I no longer have doubts about myself as a teacher would be untrue. I will forever seek the approval of my peers. However, today that approval seems less and less important to me. It no longer worries me that my colleagues down the hall may have this teaching thing down to a science, because I believe that teaching is an art.