Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reflective Teacher Day 9: My biggest accomplishment....

     Blink blink blink......I stare at the cursor and to be honest, I don't know how to answer this one. When you have been doing something for 21 years it's hard to pick one thing that stands out. There have been little victories here and there. For example, one year I received one of the few awards as a teacher that I value....the Student's Choice Award. I just think that awards for teachers is nebulous and confusing. I do what I do and accolades are nice but this is my passion. Very few awards can come close to a thank you letter/note from a student, a kind word from a parent, a visit from a former student, or even a Tweet from a student that shows that what you did in the classroom has made an impact on them. I also was very fortunate enough to attend the National Council for the Social Studies annual conference in San Diego. (S/O to Tracey Coleman for making that happen!) That conference gave me more inspiration and drive than any other conference to date.
     I view teaching as a long haul endeavor. You are looking at both the trees and forest at the same time. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest, because you are too busy with the immediate concern of the trees: I have tests to grade, lessons to plan and students to engage. But the details bog you down and you forget that many of your students leave your classroom better students, aye, better people because of what you have done. Most of the time, you will not see that. Many students do not say anything or perhaps do not even realize the impact you have made on them until years later. Research shows that the frontal lobe of teens that impacts decision making does not fully develop until  they are 25 or 26. So if you have them when they are 15 or 16, that impact may take quite a while to develop or to be realized.
     One of the greatest pieces of advice someone gave me about teaching is to keep a Why? folder. Fill it full of notes, emails, student evaluations and the like so when you have one of those days where you lose sight of the forest, you can be reminded of the things that help you to see it in the midst of the trees. The day to day grind can make the best of us lose sight of why we are here. Do not let it! You are making an impact it is just hard to see sometimes......



  1. I agree, today's topic was a hard one, I am still trying to think of what to write. I really like the 'why' folder idea. Maybe a 'what' folder too, so I can think of all of those small but meaningfull accomplishments along the way when days like today come.

  2. Oh nice. I like the what folder too. Thanks!!