Skip to main content

My Contribution

At a September back to school session on school culture, our director asked each of us to reflect on the following question:  What will be your most important contribution to the culture of our school this year?

I found this question so intriguing at the time that I decided to write a public response on my blog...that I never finished and therefore never made public. In light of recent challenging personal and professional events, it's time I finish my response to this question and, in turn, reflect on whether or not I've been successful in taking up the challenge offered by my director.   

At the time and in the space I found myself, the answer to this question was quite simple:  be positive.  Perhaps, this is too trite and therefore meaningless but after a full year reflecting on what gives me joy in all aspects of my life, I have found that the simplicity inherent in being positive - looking at the bright side - resonates well with the road I'd chosen to travel. 

Or, so I thought.

The human mind is highly susceptible to all kinds of influences and it doesn't take much to distract us from our determination to develop (or maintain) new habits or ways of seeing the world...if we aren't careful. I don't think I would be wrong to say that it's sometimes easier to fall back on old and unproductive habits of mind than to struggle at developing new ways of responding to the world. If we look hard enough, we will always find something to veer us of our course and to break our determination. 

So, maybe that's what happened to me or maybe the circumstances were such that I had no other choice but to hunker down and dig in my heels. The old dichotomy - who is the victim here and does it matter? In the end, we only hurt ourselves when we allow outside events to rule over us or, as my kids used to say, "be the boss of us". 

Which is to say that I lost my resolve to be positive and instead found only negatives to bolster my arguments. Not that the negatives weren't there but I let them eat at my insides until I became sick, literally and figuratively. Who gained? Who lost? Right now, it doesn't seem to matter. Suffice it to say that by losing sight of what's important, I once again find myself picking up the pieces and what seemed oh, so important isn't so important anymore. 

It's all about perspective 
and response 
and, yes, it's about being positive.

I have another opportunity - we always do  - and I won't mess up this time. 

Cross-posted at SOL - Two Writing Teachers.
11 comments

Popular posts from this blog

Students Plan for a Day of Learning

This is the third in a series of blog posts about strategies I use to help my students take ownership of their learning. The first post was about class meetings. The second post was about giving kids opportunities todetermine their own writing and reading plansevery Friday afternoon. (Coming soon is the fourth post in this series about using student surveys to provide feedback about the classroom.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Yesterday I felt more independent than ever because I had to tell myself what to do." - 5th grade boy
It did not come as a surprise that my students embraced the idea of planning their learning for an entire day. That is what being autonomous and self-directed is all about and what we all desire to be in our day-to-day experiences. Allowing students to create their own schedules for learning, albeit conditioned by specific parameters (reading, writing, math, sc…

The Teacher I Want to Be

The
I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal. 

I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don't like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I'm looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for. 
Teacher
An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was as…

Searching for Balance

I have been doing a lot of soul searching over the last couple of days. 
And, I've come to the conclusion that I must change my attitude - shift my stance - so I can assume a new perspective. So that I am more aligned with what's important and may add value to my life.  
Focusing on the negative is not making me stronger or healthier. In fact, I am often stressed because I worry a lot about unimportant things. I obsess over situations out of my control. I dismiss positive experiences that would help lift my spirits and align my focus towards what's important. 
I need a distraction from my own thoughts.
I need balance in my life. Not because I work hard to prepare my classes. Not because I read a lot of professional literature. Not because I wrote a lot this summer and will continue to do so now that school has started. But because I have been obsessing on the wrong things. Mostly, I obsess about what someone said or did and what it says about me as a teacher. I obsess about …