Sunday, February 22, 2015

I'm feeling the stagnation but it's just a fabrication born out of complications with my primary vocation (The Phoenix Foundation)

Recently, I was telling Awesome Greg about a teacher I knew back in the day who was nervous in front of classes - he became so bad with it that he came to hate teaching and took sick leave to see him out until retirement. By that time he'd been a teacher for about forty years. Astonishing.

I love teaching and I can't fathom why anyone would want to keep doing a job they hated.

I know you won't believe me but that song by The Phoenix Foundation in the title (called 40 Years off Happy Ending) was coincidentally playing as I typed that first paragraph. Weird but true!!

I came across this cool list of questions teachers should ask themselves daily. It was by a teacher called rather improbably - Starr Sackstein. Wow - parents were Beatles fans! Cool!

Anyway - here are the questions and embellishments (I've edited Starr's explanations - mainly I've taken out her personal reflections - hope that's okay)

  1. Am I excited about going to school today? Rather than call my job, 'work', I look forward to the endless possibility of learning every day. This is not to say there are days where I don't feel well and that bad feelings make it challenging to get up. I am a human being and therefore bad days happen. However, if a bad day turns into many and for whatever reason it becomes a chore instead of a labor of love, it is time for me to seriously consider a shift in my career.  
  2. Do I still believe that I can learn new stuff about my content?  To me, learning through my students' experiences and perspectives makes every day full of possibility and learning. My students offer context that I could have never noticed and in doing so help me to see things differently and together we collaborate to develop new ideas.  
  3. Are my students needs at the front of everything I do? Let's face it, I'm not a teacher for me, I'm a teacher for my students. They know more about themselves than I know and therefore I need to teach them to trust their inner voice. It starts by allowing myself to trust them when they share.  
  4. How do I implement student voice and choice in my decision making for learning? Students have great ideas and I must be open to hearing them. Once empowered, students will rise to a number of occasions you didn't think possible. Step out of the way of student awesomeness and cheer them along being a great supporter and facilitator of their learning.  
  5. What risks can I take today that model the growth mindset? I can't expect students to take risks if I don't take them myself.  Each risk I take runs the risk of failure, but that is okay. The tenacity and fortitude developed through this process is invaluable in the learning and reflecting cycle, so we must model what we expect.
I really like these questions. They are questions worth asking on a daily basis!

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