Digging Deeper

Back to the Basics

My brain never stops.  Ever.

I guess that’s what happens when you become a teacher.  Endless lesson plan ideas, endless tasks to complete, endless goals to achieve.

And, in the midst of all that endlessness, sometimes I lose myself as a teacher.  We are encouraged to always keep progressing, but sometimes it’s a good idea to get back to the basics.

That’s why I was so grateful for a week in the mountains of North Carolina attending sessions with other Kenan Fellows at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT).  First of all, there is something about mountain air that encourages simplicity and stillness.

I needed that calm.

But, it’s kinda funny at the same time because so many of my colleagues kept talking about information overload.  We had so many professional development sessions and so many inspirational chats and so many new types of technology to learn about.  I am overwhelmed too, but somehow I also feel like I got some clarity.  I came up with a list of the basics I was reminded of:

  1. Hope- Hope in the integrity of my profession and hope that there are teachers who really do care about making their classrooms better.
  2. Confidence- This is a huge one for me.  I feel like sometimes looking at all the things I could improve overshadows what I am doing.  White water rafting definitely helped me to remember to be confident.  Also, interacting with 40-50 professionals forced me to be courageous and confident and affirmed what I am doing.
  3. Passion- I found myself listening most of the time this week.  Everyone has such great stories and such passion for the work they are doing.  I just wanted to soak it all up.  It also renewed that passion in my own heart and reminded me why I love teaching so much.

One of my favorite professional development sessions was called “Marketing Yourself as an Educator.”  In this session, I was able to come up with my own positioning statement/my own brand.  This is kinda like my mission statement for teaching.  We were asked to develop a statement that exemplified what we value as teachers.  To me, it was getting back to the basics.  I’m so glad that I attended this session on Tuesday, because it gave me a lens to filter the rest of the week.

And since you’re probably wondering, I came up with this statement, “Passionately instilling a community of value.”  (I can talk more about why I picked this in another post.)  Anyway, I think this was my biggest takeaway, because now I can weigh educational knowledge against my value statement.  Even before I try to incorporate cross-curricular lessons and project-based lessons (some other incredible sessions), I can start with whether or not my plans align with the goals I have for my classroom.

This vision statement is another great way to interact with colleagues, and I think it will be the only way that I can forge ahead to collaborate with other subjects and grade levels.  Let’s be honest, we are all kinda skeptical when someone brings their “great idea” to us.  And, that’s what makes collaboration difficult.  But, my plan is to use each educator’s strengths- focus on what they are good at, and use them in that capacity.  Isn’t that what we are supposed to do as teachers anyway?  We see a kid’s strengths and exemplify them- use them to their greatest potential.  But, often, we get bogged down.  I don’t want to get bogged down this year.  I’m hoping that my vision will help me to look beyond what is good to what is best, and that’s how I plan to get back to the basics.