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Looking back and Looking Forward

In the spring of last year I interviewed for a position I really wanted. I didn't get it. My imposter syndrome that I have been struggling with this year started there.

I have always been very confident in my ability. I love to learn and look for those opportunities. I planned so many cool things to do with my classes this year. I have the pleasure of teaching multiple grades so many of my students I had in grade 7 I had in grade 9. This was our third year together. The imposter syndrome has continued to plague me but great things have come up as well. Before the Covid19 Crisis we were in book clubs, we were diving in to identity work trying to see both ourselves and others in texts. We were writing, about everything but my favourite things the things I was most excited about were still to come. Explorations in our stories, our passions and our lives. As we prepared to embark on these journeys everything came crashing down. We had projects planned, digital stories and magazines to publish all lined up and then Covid19 sent us home. It closed the doors to the building and I was not sure how we could continue with what we had planned. Welcome back to the imposter syndrome. I questioned if I had prepared my classes enough. If they could pull off what I was hoping we could do even without the classroom connections. In the end this challenge was too much for some. It didn't help that it was announced they didn't have to complete any work because it couldn't impact their grades. I thought back to some ridiculous comment I heard once about if kids would buy tickets to your lessons or come even if they didn't have to. The answer for many was no. Between March 16th and early May many dropped off. They had the tech support and access but there were so many more factors to consider and I completely understood those who checked out. I wanted to as well at times. It was a lot.

But something really cool also happened. Many didn't. They wrote, they shared, they reflected. They read books, they shared them ( a lot of teen romance) but mainly they wrote. So many created amazing things be it writing about their families or adventures they had taken. Projects around Pay Equity in Sports, Testing in Schools and many different crises facing the world culminated in TED Talks recorded in Bedrooms or shared in a Zoom. Students created poetry and memoirs, we experimented with lists and finished off with Where I AM From digital poetry presentations. I was so impressed with the work they finished in their homes with only my digital support and our weekly meetings on ZOOM (and a HUGE shout out to their parents). They were prepared. And this time gave me plenty of opportunities to reflect.

Lessons Learned

  1. This is the perfect time to move away from grades for good. The work turned in since COVID could not impact students in a negative way. This made me really think about the point of grades and points and luckily I just so happened to stumble onto Sarah Zerwin's Point-less and read it enthusiastically and fully intend to embrace her work as I move forward. I want to measure student learning and points tend to just get in the way. I will be blogging about this topic more in future posts.

  2. My instruction is going to be shifting further. In reading the work of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad I feel both affirmed and challenged to do more. Structure is going to change, I have so much more learning to do but I am excited.

  3. Community is essential. In these last few months I have learned that more and more. My local support network to my Twitter and Facebook teaching community. The connections are important. Leaning on and learning from each other has been pivotal in my own survival during this COVID time.

  4. It is important to have fun. I am starting a Web Series with my friend Carrie. It will be so great and a beautiful mess.

  5. Even if some don't value me I have value. Not getting that job hit me a lot harder than I expected. I started to question everything I did. I noticed that people where not asking me for advice anymore when they had in the past. Of course, maybe this was all coincidence but with an already shaken sense of professional worth it was just another hit that contributed to my imposter syndrome. Shaky lessons where I was once confident, self isolating in my classroom rather than visiting the staffroom and peers. Contributed. I have battled this thinking all year. But lately I have had these moments. Where I am feeling like I am back on track. I might not be what some are looking for but that doesn't define me or my ability. That lesson is proving harder to hold on to but I am trying.

The school year ended on many positives. I am helping to plan a conference that I am so excited about. I was selected to receive a Book Love Grant to bring even more books into Room 157 and am so excited for my students. I DREAMED of possibilities... some are big dreams and I am excited. Really I am just excited about the future. We don't know what school is going to look like in September. But I do know this.

We are going to read, write, learn, share, debate, discuss, grow and dream. Because we can either go forward or back and I already feel behind enough.

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