I'm starting this blog as a part of the Te@chThought Reflecting Teaching Blog Challenge (http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/reflective-teaching-30-day-blogging-challenge-teachers/). Starting a blog is something I've considered in the past, but between full-time teaching and working on my MA in English for the past three years, I couldn't find the time. Or I wouldn't make the time. I earned my degree in May and took the summer to travel, relax, and refresh. Now that my energy isn't devoted entirely to homework, research, and panic, it seemed like the right time to start blogging, continuing the journey of reflection that came to the forefront during my grad program.
Day One: Write About Your Goals for the School Year
#1:This blog is one of those goals. As someone who has the tendency to isolate herself for various reasons (awkwardness, introversion, general dislike of social situations), it probably doesn't help that I teach and live in rural Iowa. Living on a farm is glorious, but it only reinforces my isolationist nature. I need to connect with other teachers of English on a regular basis, more than just checking NCTE emails and websites. I need to put my thoughts out to a different audience, even if the only benefit is that I've cleared my head after a rough day of teaching. I hope to keep up with the 30 day challenge and beyond.
#2: Stay positive. I have a lot of positivity in my personal life, but there are many times when the school year drags me down. Sometimes it's one too many negative conversations in the teacher's work room; sometimes it's the 7th grade boy who's decide to hate me for no discernible reason; sometimes it's a mistake that I made that I can't stop kicking myself over. Teaching is a profession where the unexpected can crop up at any time; it's one of the things I love most about what I do. But it also means that I need to control my reactions to unpleasant situations better. As I've gotten older, I've matured in my immediate response to these types of things, but I still haven't been able to shut out the negative, obsessive voice in my head. I need to work on that so I don't start to burn out.
#3: Keep (re)searching for answers. One of the biggest takeaways from the years I spent working on my MA was the importance of basing instruction on research. This might sound obvious, but I am genuinely surprised at how much of my teaching before the program (and the teaching I see from colleagues) has very little to do with concrete research about our subject matter. It is not enough to instate the lessons from district-provided professional development; I have to keep seeking out research and ideas aligned with the skills I teach. I am not an expert in every area of language arts, and I need to look to other sources (professional articles, books, and blogs) to fill in the gaps in my own knowledge. I can't let the quest for knowledge end just because it's no longer required for a grade or a degree; I have to keep myself accountable for being a lifelong learner under my own supervision.
These are three goals that I will never simply accomplish and check off the list; they will exist for my entire teaching career. The only failure is when I stop acknowledging their necessity in my life.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.