Every year I like to think of a key word that will guide my teaching practice. Two of my past words have been ‘Applicable‘ and ‘Opportunity‘. But in light of personal and professional changes this year I have decided that my guiding word for 2016 will be “Acceptance”. This year I accept that:
I can’t hit it out of the park every time. There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself now to be new, innovative and engaging in every lesson. I am not content to just do ‘what I used to’. But all this trying to innovate does not necessarily mean it works. I threw myself into an authentic resource lesson last year with my Year 2’s. And it bombed. Big time. I was bothered…but now I accept that on my journey to improve my teaching there will be, have to be, ‘duds’. Those lessons mean that I am risking. And with risk comes the possibility of the ‘miss’. As it turns out I revamped my dud lesson this year with a new approach and guess what…an engaging student centred lesson. So I accept that to gain, to grow, to change – I will not always be successful.
Some days the ‘learning’ I’ve planned isn’t what my students need. I need to let them guide my practice and not the other way around. Yes, it’s my job to have my eye on the broad themes and goals of what they are learning. It’s my job to keep my focus on the big picture. But it isn’t my job to determine all of what/how they are learning. I need to be flexible when an activity isn’t working, and open enough to change quickly when an idea or activity particularly engages them. This year I had planned a certain approach to a lesson and in the middle realized that my students faces, voices & level of palpable excitement were telling me that there was another lesson there. So I scrapped ‘my plan’ and went with theirs. And it was way better and took them way deeper into learning than my initial approach could have. So I accept that I must be flexible and attuned to what really engages and meets my students’ needs.
Life is more important than the perfect resource/lesson/approach. I think it is so easy to spend way too much time questing for the perfect lesson – to the detriment of having a fuller more meaningful life. I got married four years ago for the first time – at the age of 50. Up until that point I spent a lot of time on my teaching and professional development. I could. I could eat, sleep and breathe teaching. It has been an adjustment for me – to carve out time for teaching/professional growth around my personal life rather than trying to squeeze a life around my teaching. So I accept that to be the teacher that I really want to be, and who will best serve my students’ needs, I must be the person I need to be first.
I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that this new year will bring. And I accept that it will be one of growth – both personally and professionally. Hello 2016!