Friday, November 14, 2014

November Blogging Challenge: Five lessons I'm grateful to have learned.

Day 14
Five things things you are grateful to have learned in your teaching career.

I have been a teacher for going on 18 years now, and I definitely have learned some great lessons that I continue to use to this day.

 I went to a conference session when I was student teaching.  It was about classroom management.  The speaker talked about the three types of classroom management styles. The first is a brick wall: this type of teacher rigidly follows every rule to such an extent that the students have no chances for mercy.  The second is a jellyfish: this type of teacher lets the students run free until finally the havoc causes the teacher to snap his/her "stingers" at the kids.  The third is a backbone: this type of teacher has both rigidity and flexibility; he or she follows the rules but understands that sometimes a little lee-way is in order.  A backbone can bend but it won't break and snap under the pressure of a bad day.  That conference helped solidify my belief about classroom management: I wanted to have a backbone kind of classroom management that is strong enough support the rules, but also one that is flexible enough to allow a little freedom of expression.

Another lesson I'm grateful to have learned is twofold: first, teachers really do have the ability to change the lives of their students.  I had a student once who came back to tell me about how I'd helped him.  I wrote about it in the blog post "Homecoming."  The other half of the lesson is that our students change our lives, too.  I cannot count the ways the students have changed my life.  I've learned more from them, I think, than I've taught them.  I am blessed by the ways that my students have helped me see life from their perspective.

 A third thing I'm grateful to have learned over my career is the priceless lesson of how important it is to work together as a team.  Too often we teachers work in isolation, our classrooms becoming a little kingdom.  But when I learned about Professional Learning Communities I found a way to work together like the states do with the Federal government.  Instead of being an entity unto myself, I was able to gain insight and help from others who knew ways to do things I didn't and was able to give insight and help to those who needed my knowledge.

Another lesson I'm grateful to have learned is that every obstacle is an opportunity to grow.  When I deal with a student who is unruly, I can focus on the behavior that is frustrating me, or I can try to understand where that behavior is coming from.  There's always a silver lining; if I have to redo my curriculum (again) to match up with new standards (or just renamed standards), then that is an opportunity to add something.  I just need to Search for Ponies.

Lots of things in education today can be trying and upsetting, but when we come together with the same goals in mind, we can affect change.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead.  I'm grateful to have learned this lesson because I'm reminded that my job is not just a job; it is a calling.

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