Being a teacher means embracing constant change. Yet all too often, teachers are told when, how and why to change. In this monthly column, Mrs. Mimi takes on creating change for herself by rethinking old practices and redefining teaching on her own terms.
So how many days do you have left in your school year? Come on, I know you’re counting. You may even have a calendar with big black Xs marking the days in these final moments. It’s okay—I totally understand.
I always taught my little heart out until the bitter end because it was honestly easier for me to keep our routine intact than it was for me to completely let go. (Type A much?) Plus, I am one of those people who believe that June still means school and school means teaching and learning, not cleaning and chaos.
Regardless, even I, personal horn-tooting aside, could not keep everything going until the bitter
bitter end. Every year I could pinpoint the exact moment when I was—how shall I put it?—all set. In my imagination, it was this moment where I stood in front of the room and dramatically declared, “SCENE! It’s a wrap, people!” In reality, it simply meant that I shifted gears and turned my focus to the coming year, packing up my classroom and spending the final moments of the year truly enjoying my little friends.
Now, I don’t know what kind of year you’ve had. Maybe it’s been a grueling marathon of meetings, meetings, curricular changes, meetings, helicopter parents, and even more meetings. Or maybe it has been an absolute joy each and every day. Regardless, today I’m going to implore you to resist the urge to throw your books, pens and crayons in a box in a mad dash to your local watering hole to get a much needed after-work “soda” and instead use this as a reflective time.
Right about now, you might be shouting, “Yeah?! Well, reflect on this
!” at your computer. I hope not. But if you are, I hear you.
Just take a breath and think about the fall. Think about unpacking those hastily thrown together boxes. It’s a grim picture, isn’t it?
While I know our collective energy levels are low, this truly is one of the best times to reflect upon your practice in meaningful ways and think about one area, just one
, where you’d like to make an improvement. What kind of literacy teacher do you want to be next year? What aspect of your teaching do you want to focus on improving, retooling, or refreshing?
Whatever it is, think about it now. Begin the process now. Keep these ideas and goals in your mind now
, and let them color time as you wrap up your year and plan for the next one.
Maybe that means finally re-organizing and updating your classroom library. Or creating a spread sheet of your favorite read alouds and their potential uses. Or finding pieces of short informational text to feature as shared readings in your science and social studies instruction.
When I think about the best, most impressive teachers I know, one common characteristic they all possess is the ability to critically reflect on their own practice and constantly find ways to improve and grow. So, as you complete hour about hour of mindless end-of-the-year paperwork, instead of letting your mind wander to think about what The Bachelorette is going to decide, let your mind wander into next year to think about what you
are going to do now
to improve and grow your talents. Mrs. Mimi is a pseudonymous teacher who taught both first and second grades at a public elementary school in New York City. She's the author of IT'S NOT ALL FLOWERS AND SAUSAGES: MY ADVENTURES IN SECOND GRADE, which sprung from her popular blog of the same name. Mimi also has her doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
© 2012 Mrs. Mimi. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.