Monday, September 01, 2014

Reflective Teacher Challenge... ACCEPTED!

Amtrak-ing home, visions
of happy school days dancing
in my head!
Trolling Twitter at 6 a.m. can lead to odd choices. While I have yet to accept the numerous student "challenges" to dump cold water on myself, while on Twitter this morning I did accept (at least for this post) the reflective challenge of "blog[ing] every day for 30 days" in the interest of "[c]onnecting with other teachers through the process–through the blogs and the hashtags and the RTs– to help get your year started off right–connected, and full of reflection."

Not surprisingly, given the whole "begin with the end in mind" mantra, the challenge starts with the task of establishing some possible goals for the new school year. While I have already completed this exercise as part of an introductory friendly letter task I'll be asking students to complete, much like lesson planning, I often myself waking early in the morning with a hankering to revise. The copies are already made, so these starter goals, to be shared with these new charges on the first day of classes, are set in copier ink:

Whenever I reread things that I've set on paper, opportunities for further wordsmithing seem to present themselves. But these are for my students, as much as myself, and my hope is that they will 1) communicate that I want this year to be positive and productive and 2) offer a model which can be used by them to establish a few goals of their own. The wonderful thing about teaching is that each year (and day or class if you're mindful) offers the opportunity to begin again for both students and teachers.

As much for them as for myself, it's worth remembering that each new school year also provides the opportunity to embrace the tabula rasa nature of schools. Students often do this by making the conscious choice to try a new personal style (hairdo, fashion don't, etc.). In addition to adding another pair of khakis and maybe (and if I'm feeling especially adventurous, a new button down shirt) to my official teacher costume, I choose to begin each year by forgetting.

Again, from my introductory letter (not sure why the image came out so distorted!):

Given past interactions, the goal implied above, at least at the onset, is the more important one, and will have a greater impact on where we as a class go from jump street. The daily exercise of forgetting the foibles and missteps of others, and allowing myself to trip, fall and get up, is where much of the real work of moving toward achieving those larger stated goals comes into play.

After a relaxing summer, at this moment, hurtling down the train tracks back to River City, and tomorrow back to my classroom, I feel properly pale, rested and ready to accept that challenge!

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