What role does professional satisfaction play in the effectiveness of a classroom?
I think about professional satisfaction quite often. I have been teaching over 20 years and I have to add spice to my life or it will go old and stale fast. I decided a few years back to be a great teacher. I have tried to stay open to learning so I can bring my students along with me. Dave Burgess, author of Teach like a Pirate, has brought what I had experienced in college, in my Language Arts class, to life with words that I can understand and follow. I wasn’t confident in myself when I began teaching and have gradually stretch beyond my comfort zone (I still have a lot of room for stretching). It was ingrained in me to stand in front of my class and teach “old school” ways. I never believed in the “don’t smile until Christmas” tactic; I cherish the students and the relationships that develop. I like to remember that they are someone’s baby, it keeps them real to me and makes me think about how to teach or help them. Which, in turn, makes me reflect on how their lives are going. If I don’t know them or their family I ask them questions to help understand them more. It amazes me what comes out of them, it shows what is in the front of their minds. I also share this with my colleagues at our meeting or at least with the principal. Our staff tries to stay abreast of what is happening in the community and how/who it affects. I have learned that I need to always be learning and it keeps my fire fueled; whether it is online classes, reading articles, or Edivate. We have to pursue the next great idea.
I really appreciated the video that Chris Bryner shared in his blog, “The surprising truth of what motivates us” (https://youtu.be/u6XAPnuFjJc). We always talk about the carrot out in front of our students. I need to rethink this for my students. I do have a couple short assignments in one of my classes so the students that need to get up and move can productively go grade the short assignment and turn it in, I can see the confidence and pride of completion. I have shared this with my peers as a personality of this class of freshman. I see now that they are exhibiting a behavior that emulates any group of people. I sure appreciate what this class makes me think about and how my classmates interpret the same question. I appreciate all the resources that they bring. I would like to bring this to my classes that I teach, but I’ll have to think out side the box to come up with a way students can bring ideas and thoughts into the classroom that relate to the math concepts we are covering.
My group of colleagues, teachers and principals, I speak with is spread out throughout the district. I share with them what I am doing in my class or learning online. I also talk about difficulties in the classroom with them. I share how I handled a situation and ask if that was okay or if I needed to handle it differently. Our middle school math teacher is one of them that introduced me to the grant to help me work on my masters. She has helped me with the technology that comes with our textbooks. The colleagues are a large variety of teachers in our district. I hadn’t had the pleasure of staying connected to a veteran teacher that retired, I have moved twice and don’t have easy access to them. The veteran teachers helped me find stability in teaching while the newer teacher bring a fresh breath of life to teaching; It is a great mix of teachers. I have learned to pick carefully whom I will listen to, as in I do avoid the negative sided people who have a hard time or don’t want to see the positive. I believe in my students and want the best for them. I don’t want negativity to come into play in the midst of my students’ day if I can help it. I believe in having cohorts to talk with they help sort out and plan for a better day tomorrow.
I met with my mentee, Alex, this week and she is so excited about using wordpress for her bell-ringers. I shared with her the “Engage Me” video (https://youtu.be/ZokqjjIy77Y) and she was thrilled to see how writing an essay about her topic by the students in WordPress.com would open the door for the students to have more than one person reading their work. She immediately signed up, created and deleted a dummy document to get a feel for the program. We worked on an outline of having the students open an account and connect to her account where the original article would be launched each week. The students’ will follow her and each other. On Wednesdays the students will read the article she is presenting and write their blog. On Thursday, the students will have to read one (eventually three) of their classmates’ papers and comment on it. The students have to respond to all comments. This is how far our planning has taken us. Alex is going to play with WordPress.com this weekend and try to launch on Wednesday. She is excited to implement right away due to the poor spreadsheet system that Google docs is offering with its limitation of her being the only reader and she has small print in a spreadsheet to read. Over all we are excited to watch the students respond to this format. We both have the understanding that this is just beginning of our project that will evolve. We are excited to see what kind of life this project is going to take.
It has been a great week of learning. I enjoyed the thought provoking questions that Tyler Bishop had on Twitter it had made you think of our history that made the essential question come alive. The different blogs made you see the different interpretations or emphasizes that the question brought. It has been a great production week.