Once upon an educator

Once upon a time, there was a teacher who just graduated from college. She was eager to get started in her new profession and had just earned her degree with honors. She was ready!

The first year of teaching was much more difficult that she could have imagined. Maybe all those classes this teacher aced did not help as much once one entered the ‘real world’ of teaching. She pressed on, using all the techniques that had been praised by her college professors and mimicking practices she learned from her student teaching. Much time was devoted to following the textbook, making sure all students sat in rows (and next to the other students that would keep them quiet), scheduling homework assignments every night, and grading absolutely everything. It was hard work, but this teacher had a job to do, and this room was going to run like clockwork. She was in control and that was how it was supposed to be.

Fast forward 15 years in this teaching career…

Wow, what a complete transformation. The classroom is loud, the curriculum is tailored to student readiness, and relevance for future application. The students choose their seats, and the learning environment is created by the kids and the teacher collaboratively. Grades have moved to the background to be replaced by a focus on learning. The instructor makes sure the learning is owned by the students all the while guiding and providing multiple ways to grow their proficiency. She realizes failures and setbacks for the teacher and students alike are a normal occurrence on the journey to success. This previous idea of the classroom running like clockwork had set a tone of compliance rather than one of collaboration and she works diligently to facilitate the latter.

My story continues from this point and I cannot wait to see where it takes me next. And every story has a moral, right?

Here we go…we cannot waste time fixating on the mistakes we have made in the past. I could spend my time feeling badly about choices I made early on (even though I wish I could go back and change my early teaching), or I can move forward to make the best decisions about the learners I have before me. If I can let go of the guilt I can move on to best serve my current population.

My path in education is ever evolving and I will not stop growing. I have not only learned to accept the discomfort that accompanies the learning process prior to finding success but also embraced a growth mindset. I have to be the lead learner in my environment, modeling is imperative. My career has become so much more of a joyous experience over the years rather than an anxious one striving for perfection.

The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.                                                                                                                              – Carl Rogers

What is your story? How have you adapted and developed your craft to improve throughout your career?

 

3 Replies to “Once upon an educator”

  1. I thought I was the only one who felt this way! Starting out 20 years ago as a long-term substitute is what you could call trial by fire consumed with long hours spent learning what most others got in college. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that this was my calling. While it is easy to look back with regret, I prefer what you recommend: to see the past as a journey to be learned from, but to focus on the future. Those early years of learning from mistakes and seeking solutions to problems helped shape me into the life-long learner I am today. As educators, we are in the greatest profession on the planet. We get to learn and grow daily as we help children do the same. Now that I’ve become an administrator, I also have the joy of regularly helping teachers as they strive to improve. Thanks for this post. It has brought on much needed reflection.

  2. So very true and honest. Interesting to think if only we could go back to our former selves and “enlighten” them. It is easy to dwell in the past instead of looking ahead confident in the future and your students growth! Great post and a great example of how much we as educators and people can change!

  3. Garnet! What a great post. Change is constant, we know this. The more we fight it, the harder it is to adapt to it. If we can embrace change more, then change can be less scary. In return we can see the positive in what comes our way. You can always find the positive in something if you want to. Your ending quote sums this up better than I’m explaining it!! It’s apparent that you’re embracing your journey as an educator, from beginning until the present. Love that you recognize all the parts, your strongest and maybe not strongest. That’s the way to grow and learn. 🙂

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