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A Celebration

This past June marked my 30th year
as an educator.                                                                                


It seems like a milestone.

It is a milestone.
It's a moment to celebrate.

Yet, part of me feels like I should hide this fact.
And, instead, say I have about 20 years in education, rather than 30.
Because 30 feels like a long time.
It is a long time.
It's as long as I've known
and loved my husband.
Another celebration.

But, somehow,
it doesn't feel like a long time.

It feels as if I still have a lot to learn.
It feels as if I still have a lot to teach.
Because I am always in the process
of becoming the educator I want to be,
every year is an adventure.                                                                                                           source:

As a means of celebrating, I've listed some of my biggest takeaways from the last three(!) decades. In case you're wondering, they're listed in random order.

  • Always listen to students. They will teach you what you need to know to teach them well.
  • The best "behavior management" system is always about building authentic relationships with students. It is not about gold stickers, extra recess, or "free time", whether it's earned individually or collectively. It doesn't matter. Rewards and punishments don't encourage life-long learning. Period.
  • Content doesn't matter; you can teach anything through any topic or subject at any grade level to all students. (See the first bullet point above.)
  • Standardized tests tell me nothing I don't already know about my students. In fact, they are, more often than not, a distraction from real teaching and learning. 
  • Observing students at work, and at play, gives me important information. Social-emotional responses are key to learning anything.
  • No matter what you teach, make sure that you read and write widely. Read professional books and write...anything.
  • Connect with other educators on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and through professional organizations. This will be your lifeline when it seems like nothing is making sense.
  • Be a mentor to less experienced teachers by offering support, encouragement and respect. Also, be ready to learn from then as well! You'll be pleasantly surprised and forever grateful!
  • We can learn anything from anybody, even during a less than stellar PD session :-). 
  • Speak up when necessary, but pick your battles always. (Still learning this one!)
  • Be a voice for your students and encourage #stuvoice whenever and wherever you can.
  • Read, read, read books that your students are reading or may want to read. They'll thank you for it later.
  • Write, write, write so that you can anticipate your students' struggles and celebrations.
  • Take a break from school by enjoying time with your family, watching a little TV., exercising, meditating or by sitting silently for a few minutes. (Still working on some of these.)
If you're nearing a landmark year as an educator, you may want to reflect by leaving a few of your takeaways in the comments.

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I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!