Thursday, December 8, 2011

From the Darndest Places

It is no secret that I love my job. I am passionate about working with kids and teachers who challenge me, and I often find that I learn as much, or more about life from them than I teach them in return. It's a beautiful thing, and I would never, ever work in another profession.

This week, some great things were brewing in the Language Arts Department (of which I am a teensy, sort of part, since I teach a self-contained ELL LA class). Several teachers have recently participated in a conference, and wanted to de-brief some of their big thoughts. We began discussing our own personal reading and writing lives. Apparently, a presenter at one of the presentations had challenged this national group of Language Arts teachers, saying that if a teacher doesn't have a rich reading or writing life, how do they expect to authentically connect with and ameliorate their students' literacy lives? My mind was blown.

It sounds so simple. We teach. They learn. We coach. They rewrite. They read. We question. But really, it is so much more complex than that. How are we to challenge students to push beyond their previous inhibitions with genre or craft, if we aren't constantly pushing ourselves in new and strange directions? How can we create lifelong learners if we are disengaged with the world around ourselves?

The truth is, I am not often good at this. I come home from work tired, and want to wrap myself in my domestic cocoon rather than engaging with the outside world. On the weekends, I want to spend time with friends, not ponder my intellectual life or challenge myself. But to be a better teacher, I have to get beyond that. I have to do things that scare me. Practice language. Take risks. Write. Rewrite. Learn a skill. Listen. Be TAUGHT. I'm not very good at these things. I break down, I get humiliated, I am a poor sport when asked to participate in a game I'm not good at. I don't try. And yet, I would hate this same behavior in my students.

Self improvement goals come from the darndest places.

Are you a risk taker, or a rut finder?
What are you doing right now to challenge yourself?


  1. I agree about the need to develop ourselves personally in our teaching areas, however, it would be great if that was made easier for teachers through meaningful inservice activities and time for professional growth. As a new high school science teacher, I struggle with balancing the teaching of two subjects and finding time to increase my subject knowledge...Sorry, no solutions being offered here, just a little frustration coming out as we head into our first inservice day of 2012 and are being forced to attend meaningless meetings:P

  2. Agreed- if I can't walk out of an in-service with a new idea that I can use to reach tough students in my classroom TOMORROW (without extra planning) it's not worth it to me. We really need to look at how to make teachers more effective to address failing test scores in this country, rather than programs or band-aid fixes.

    Also, I became an email subscriber to your blog- love the content!