Now I know.

thinking

This post was written for November’s Project PLN: The Admin Issue.


I used to think students should sit in rows. (Made it harder for them to chit chat while I was imparting wisdom on them.) Now I know they should sit…stand…hang…together. (Makes it easier for them to talk and learn from one another.)

I used to think I needed to cite standards in my lesson plans. (This handy-dandy cheat sheet will help me quickly identify standard 2.1!) Now I know we should evaluate the standards, using them to guide instruction, yet allow students to pursue their passions. (What does this learning mean for you, children?)

I used to think my good ideas should stay in my classroom. (I worked hard developing those lessons!) Now I know more students will benefit from the expertise of teachers who share. (Collective genius. Sharing is caring.)

I used to think I never had enough time. (Lesson plans…grading papers…surviving…) Now I know it’s important to work smarter, not harder. (Make time for the things that matter most.)

I used to think a child who scored poorly on an assessment didn’t study hard enough. (They had a study guide one week in advance! What is the deal with that kid?) Now I know a student who doesn’t perform well on an assessment does not have the problem. (The teacher does.)

I used to think sitting down with a parent was scary. (They’re older than me! They’re parents, for crying out loud! What could I possibly know that they don’t?) Now I know talking with parents about their children is enlightening and meaningful. (Parents are tremendous assets to every school.)

I used to think in-services were an opportunity for me to address my staff about important issues. (If I’m going to wear a suit to work, I may as well stand up in front of you with this PowerPoint presentation!) Now I know that I am not comfortable spending 6 hours of the day leading professional development sessions in which teachers have little ownership. (Let them lead the way).

I used to think teacher supervision was something that happened to teachers. (Everything’s ship-shape in here. Sign on the dotted line). Now I know teacher supervision is something that happens for teachers. (I appreciate your strengths in these areas. Where can we find opportunities for improvement? I will support you.)

I used to think a child who did not follow the rules was non-compliant and clearly did not want to learn. (A rigid system of consequences will help students realize what is expected of them.) Now I know every child who demonstrates the need for behavioral supports deserves an arm around the shoulder and our relentless care. (Let’s problem solve this together.)

I used to think people who put their lives out there on Twitter were crazy people. (Okay, some of them are actually crazy people. Why would you write about what’s happening in your school?! What if your superintendent reads it?!) Now I know my involvement in social media is the most powerful professional development opportunity I’ve had in the past year. (Thank you, PLN.)

I used to think bragging about our accomplishments was pompous. (Ugh, will that teacher ever stop yapping about how great her students’ projects are?) Now I know celebrating our successes spreads good ideas like wildfire. (It ignites teaching and learning!)

I used to think I wanted to be a teacher. Now I know I was right.

And more so, now I know I want to be a learner.
(Always.)

15 Replies to “Now I know.”

  1. Lyn – Thanks for sharing this. I feel like it hits many feelings that I have had about my own growth as an educator. I am extremely fortunate to have a PLN that pushes my thinking as well.

    I look forward to being a continuous learner as well and I know that more people will follow this path because if they care about what is best for students then there is’t another option.

    1. The key is that we’re continuous learners. We’ll make mistakes along the way, but as long as we strive to keep doing the best we can for kids, like you said, we’ll make an impact!! Thanks for your comments, I always appreciate your input!

  2. What a great reflection on the process we are all undergoing as teaching learners.

    I am going to be sharing this post with my students as we talk about their education.

    Thanks!
    Scott

    1. Thank you for your comments! I hope sharing my thoughts will help your teachers reflect upon their practices! I encourage them to do the same… blogging has been a wonderfully reflective activity for me.

  3. I think you nailed the changes so many of us PLP Peeps have gone through. I still need to work on working smarter, not harder. Thanks for this post.

    1. Glad to connect with another PLP Peep! The shift is definitely difficult to wrap our heads around, sometimes, but I think when we try to “do it all,” we end up doing next to nothing differently to impact student learning. We can all make small changes in our classrooms and schools to help shift the focus from teaching to learning!! Thanks for commenting!

  4. The part about the arm around around the shoulder is pivotal. I have a hard time communicating to parents that suspensions and expulsion is not the way to go with K-5, except under extreme circumstances. We are in the job to teach, and many of the students in these circumstances have experienced a life many of us could not imagine and have not had the guidance we would have hoped.
    Usually after the parents see that the kid is turning things around and that I am heavily involved, in a teaching way, that the child is not rotten or mean but just someone who needs to know that there are adults who will care and love them unconditionally.

    1. Remi, thanks for your comments. I couldn’t agree more with you about the approach to discipline in elementary schools. In fact, I really just despise the word discipline when talking about how we interact with children. It’s been a source of frustration to me lately that when a child makes a poor choice, the teacher is looking for administration to dole out some sort of heavy consequence. Most of the time, I just end up having a conversation with the child, trying to understand him/her as a person, and trying to develop our working relationship and foster a sense of trust. Children, like adults, don’t like disappointing those that care about them. They respect those who show them respect. And we all make poor choices in life. They need support in those times, and yes, there are times when consequences are necessary, but does a lunch detention guarantee he/she will never make the same mistake? Certainly not. I agree with you 100%!!

  5. I just discovered your blog (even though we have communicated on Twitter) via Steven Anderson and happened to come across this post. What a great way to share your own learning. It is always good to see and hear about educators stepping out of a comfort zone and embracing something new.

    1. Mike, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate your kind words! I have enjoyed working with teachers and watching them grow and learn as they step outside their comfort zones and take risks in the classroom. I’m lucky to be part of it…

    1. Thank you, Chris! I enjoyed reflecting on my practice through writing this post and how my perspectives on things have changed over the years.

  6. What a fantastic post about your learning. Just goes to show how sharing, collaborating, and being a reflective, improving teacher can make you a better teacher.

    One point I slightly worry about though is:

    I used to think a child who scored poorly on an assessment didn’t study hard enough. (They had a study guide one week in advance! What is the deal with that kid?) Now I know a student who doesn’t perform well on an assessment does not have the problem.

    I’d say that a poor assessment could show a poor teacher, it could show a problem at home, it could show poor organisation for revision, it could show a lack of reslience, or many other things! I wouldn’t necessarily blame yourself for every poor test score, just so long as you reflect on each piece of information you have (and as long as you help the student do so as well). We wouldn’t want to encourage those who use single test scores to pass judgement on teachers!

    Keep up the good work, great post.

    1. Hi, David,
      I appreciate your feedback. I agree, it’s not necessary to place “blame” necessarily back on the teacher if students aren’t performing as expected, but I agree that it’s definitely an indicator that the teacher needs to reflect seriously on his instruction and what supports were provided to help the student learn. Another reason why it’s so important to invest time in formative, authentic assessments to develop a true picture of student understanding. Thanks so much for your comments!

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