The thing I'm most proud of in my teaching career is that I made the decision to be an active lifelong learner. I think all teachers learn something new each day due to the nature of our work (and our professional development requirements), but I think there's a big difference between those who choose to be active about their learning and those who wait for learning opportunities to fall into their laps.
Part of accepting your role as a learner is being okay with making mistakes, and that's something I'm equally proud of. I don't need to be right all the time in my classroom, and I don't stick with a sinking ship. If something's not working, I'm okay with admitting failure and changing course. It sounds weird to say that I'm proud of being a failure, but it's something I've had to work on (that I'm always working on). It's part of my teaching persona that I wish I could bring more into my outside of school life.
See, I'm a stubborn person in real life. I like to be right. I like to have answers. Ask anyone who knows me well and has known me for a long time, and they will probably tell you that stubbornness is a huge part of who I am (and it can get ugly). If I didn't have this quality, then I probably wouldn't have the drive to be an active lifelong learner because I wouldn't be as motivated about my thirst for new knowledge.
But stubbornness isn't always good in a teacher. It rarely helps my kids for me to be stubborn. I don't want to be the person who gets worked up in silly arguments with kids over who's right or wrong. I don't want this personality trait to allow me to continue doing something that doesn't work simply because I don't want to admit defeat. School tries to defeat me all the time: it's the nature of this crazy, exhausting, amazing profession, and I need to pick my battles. Being stubborn over a lesson or activity that doesn't work isn't worth the energy. My time needs to be spent finding and doing what works, and if something isn't working, then it isn't worth the time. I can reflect on why it didn't work and what I can do differently later, on my own time, but my classroom time is precious and needs to be used effectively.
I can't have a 100% success rate every day on every lesson during every class period. So instead of striving for perfection all the time, I'm proud that I experiment and that I learn something from each new adventure. I set my ego aside whenever I can, and I figure out what works for my kids on any given day. I'm proud of that because every time I'm able to do it, it's a small victory against one of my biggest personality flaws.
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.