Looking back at the teacher I was a year ago, it’s easy to see that I’ve grown a lot. I was a very passionate teacher before I was a Kenan Fellow, but I certainly lacked the knowledge, focus, and reach I now possess.
Knowledge is one obvious thing I’ve gained as a Kenan Fellow. In the summer institute, I got my feet wet with planning PBL units. I learned about the gold standard for this method of teaching so that students are challenged to think critically in an authentic way while also acquiring content knowledge effectively. This knowledge was pivotal for me as I developed my curriculum unit for CMS. Thinking of important teaching strategies and concepts I picked up directly from this program, I could mention dozens more. I’m so thankful for the depth of knowledge I’ve gained through the program.
Focus is another factor I’ve gained as a Kenan Fellow. As a teacher, I’ve always loved a challenge. I have taken on technology instruction like coding, hands on learning through gardening, personalized learning, and more. This is both a blessing and a curse. While it does keep me up to date with the latest trends and research based practices in education, it can also be hard to identify the focus of my instructional practice. Through my internship and training, I’ve identified a true focus for my instruction that encapsulates my various endeavors: 21st century preparation. I’ll pull from my experience in the Kenan Fellows Program for decades to come as I work to prepare my students for their challenging career paths in this changing world.
Reach is something I’ve gained as a Kenan Fellow. Last year, I was at a stable point in my teaching career. I had developed strong strategies for impacting the lives of my students in a positive way. However, this was a very limited reach for my impact as a teacher. I was definitely having a positive influence on the students in my classroom, but I felt a need to do more. My scope of influence has grown, and I feel that it will only continue to get wider and wider. My school now looks to me as a leader in the PBL initiative. The district has access to my science unit, and it will hopefully be used by teachers district-wide. I’m also much more aware of opportunities and careers in education that could be in my future as I continue to look for ways to benefit as many students as possible.
This opportunity has helped me grow and change in so many positive ways, and the three I mentioned really only describe the tip of the iceberg. I’m going to steal this last sentence to thank everyone in the organization who made this possible, because it has certainly been a milestone in my development as a teacher.