Not yet the word
The last few years I have taken part and had my students take part in the whole #oneword project. Pick a word to frame your year around versus resolutions. My first year was Creativity and last year I chose Valiant. It was fun to think about ways I could frame the year around the word. To wrap up my Valiant year I took a risk and applied to do a breakout session at a conference later this year. I was accepted for it and some days I am really excited haha. Other days I am a little bit worried to full blown panicked but I will be talking about what I love so I am sure I will survive. As I have had this last week to ponder I thought I had come to my word for this next year but I am not feeling it as a guiding word for my work so I am not using it but the thoughts that brought it to the front of my mind still are pushing to be shared so without further delay, my almost #oneword2020
The almost #oneword2020
I have been talking to a lot of very talented and some would even say famous (they do not make that claim) teachers and so many are struggling with the idea of imposter syndrome. I have shared that struggle this year. I can't help but wonder if the more people praise you the more this anti-praise thought of imposter status creeps in. As I was stuck in a bit of a loop on this thinking the other day I kept having a few thoughts.
Am I having my students do enough? Am I challenging them? Holding them to high enough expectations?
Am I enough?
So lets tackle these one at a time.
Am I enough?
I have these moments of self doubt often. I love what I do. I want to teach forever. But the idea of if I am good at it is always creeping around. People can tell me that I am amazing all they want, they can tell me their kids are so excited to be in my class or hoping I move up with them. This is always nice to hear but the follow up thought inevitably is why? Will I be able to help their child succeed academically? Perhaps socially? Can I get them to love reading this year? Can I help them finding their writing and reading selves? The thoughts are always there. Maybe it fuels me to be better to try harder? A lot of questions and no answers...
Are we doing enough?
I tell my kids I would go gradeless if it was up to me. It isn't so I have to grade things. I despise marking. I have some beautiful writing that is a few sentences long and another piece of writing that is pages long but has the same amount of beauty as the short piece, a rubric doesn't really help there. I could read one page of Rudy Francisco poetry or Nikki Grimes and find more stunning imagery than in an entire short story. SO grading has always caused me issues, I do it because I must. The attached problem though is that at times I do not know if my students are being as stretched as I know they can be. They are writing they are reading they are discussing. They are doing everything required of them. I just wonder if I am raising the bar enough. Am I accepting good when I should help them push them to great? Am I letting them say that a 75% is good enough when I know they are capable of so much more? A lot of questions and no answers.
Now here comes the exclamation
I am questioning myself and my practice because that is how we grow. I look at the Twitter education world and really question how many of us do that. There is a lot of sharing of ideas but it seems to be that there is not a lot of questioning them. When I do question I tend to get responses like, Well if you don't like it don't use it? But I have had enough of sitting around and watching bad practice happen because people think it is cute or because it is easy. I have had enough of activities without clear purpose. I have had enough of people making instructional decisions without being able to answer clear questions around those decisions. As teachers we often complain that we are not respected as the professionals that we feel we are. I can't help but think if the refusal of some in our profession to exam their practices critically has something to do with the public perception. There are big issues impacting education. Poverty, Racism, Funding inequities, Book Accessibility just to name a few and I I don't think we are doing enough to solve them. It is really easy to look at where I work and where I stand and say, " Yup I am doing great so I have done my part" but what about down the highway? What about across the country? What about down the hall?
Are we really doing enough? Teaching is hard work, support from everyone to lift this load will be needed if we are going to address the heavier issues facing us all. By saying we just need to worry about ourselves we are putting way to much of the load on teachers who are already over burdened.
Are we doing enough? Let's lend a hand.