Monday, September 29, 2014

Reflective Teacher Day 29: How I have changed as an educator....


     A lot.

     I could leave that there, because honestly, I have changed sooooooo much as an educator since those days in the early 90s. (Yea, I am old!) Since this is the second last post for the challenge, it might be the longest. Well, maybe. Ha!
     I have always tried  to connect with students because early on I realized that if you make that connection, students will respond and your job will become easier. However, I have now used the available technology like Twitter and this blog to reach out to students in a different way. Sometimes it is difficult to reach all students, so you have to try different ways. Early in my career, it was harder to do this without the technology and so many times you were left with guessing as to what to do. Not that technology and social media are the only answer, but it does make it easier to do. (Just like most things) I feel more connected to my students because of this and in the long run, I believe it has made me connect better with students.
     You know when I reflect back on what I used to do in the classroom years ago, it is almost embarrassing. It's an aspect of teaching that has improved over the years: helping new teachers out and the quality of professional development. Don't get me wrong, there was available help for new teachers when I started, and I was surrounded by some of the best people on the planet, but I almost wish I had what is available today. I think I have become much more in tune with what is good, sound educational practice that is designed to help students. This is not to say that I was willingly not in touch before, but now I have really tried to focus on what is good for students, not what is easy for me. I have prided myself on always trying to find the best for what I do in the classroom, never settling for "good enough." I think what is different for me is I have more tools available and that is good for me.
     I also believe that I have changed by actively seeking to connect my teaching to the world the students will find themselves in someday. I had always related stuff to the world beyond the walls of the classroom, but now I have been a lot more aggressive about it. Everything is more connected now, so again, making that leap and connection is so much easier to do. Smartphones, tablets, personal computers make this job a whole lot easier. I have seen students actually come in relating stories that they saw on the news to the content we are/were discussing in class. I have always talked about the news and how it relates to what we do, but apparently I have gotten better at it.
     I think that is one of the things that has changed about me as an educator: I have such a large "bag of tricks" simply by doing, trying, failing, doing some more, failing a little less and succeeding a little more that I have found some things that work well. I can now augment that with the infusion of technology that the world has graciously given us. I find myself constantly trying to keep up, but I think that is a great thing to have to do. It keeps me out of trouble and on my toes where I should be as an educator.
    One of the biggest ways I have changed as an educator is the slow but sure process of removing myself from the front of the room where all I do is talk talk talk. I have never felt that talking to students was the most effective way of conveying information to students. Yes, I have done that before: talk talk talk. But it always frustrated me that the results were never really what I wanted. Sure some students did well, but not all. I have been trying and trying for years to make this better, to allow the students more choice and to get them more in charge of their own learning. It has not been easy and one of the ways that I have changed is I have had to be persistent, to trouble shoot and to find new ways to make it work. I have seen amazing results and students have responded well to the change. Sure there are students who are not used to this approach, but if I persist and fail and learn, I might just succeed! I have to be what I want my students to be!!

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