Teaching: End of your first year

We often have this discussion, my friends and I, about the reflective nature of summer for teachers. The great myth is that teachers run from the classroom as soon as the last bell rings, but in truth, the spend the summer months reflecting on their prior year and preparing for the next. For many, it’s a chance to embrace time spent with those who will coach them in their personal and professional development, and to soak up time with mentors, as they move forward in the long journey of their lives.

On Twitter tonight, I asked three of my own mentors some tough questions during the #WeirdEd chat, questions designed to get them to think back on the whole of their career.

  • Q1 What was the lowest, absolute bottom point in your career? At that moment, what did you cling to for hope? #WeirdEd
  • Q2 Did you ever question your use of substances, due to the pressure of teaching or from being in education? Did others? How handle?#WeirdEd
  • Q3. Who is still the one person / teacher, out of everyone, who makes you say “WOW” to this day? #WeirdEd
  • Q4: In whose shoes do you wish you could actually walk, just for a single day, as a teacher? #WeirdEd
  • Q5: Be honest: How do you feel about the role of tech in education as a profession? #WeirdEd
  • Q6: Be Honest: How do you feel about the Whitby mustache? #WeirdEd (This is suppose to be funny)
  • Q7: Would you be OK teaching a dozen or 24 kids, in the woods, no books, no internet, Laura Ingalls style? #WeirdEd

Honestly, any teacher who has been teaching for more than 3 or 5 years should be able to write at length about these topics. And they should be completely at ease, opening their souls with a mentor, over a cup of coffee or a great dinner with family and friends, and discussing these types of topics.

What I didn’t add to this is the obvious next two questions:

  • Where am I going to be in 5 years?
  • What’s the next chapter in my professional life, and what are the X steps I specifically need to take to get there?

I think all of these these questions would just as easily apply to new teachers finishing their first year of teaching, and serve as a great writing tool for reflection, especially one used for later discussion with a mentor.

  • What was the lowest, absolute bottom point in your year? At that moment, what did you cling to for hope?
  • Did you ever question your use of substances, due to the pressure of teaching or from being in education? Did others question your use? How did you handle it?
  • Who is still the one person / teacher, out of everyone you have seen in action, who makes you say “WOW” to this day?
  • In whose shoes do you wish you could actually walk, just for a single day, as a teacher?
  • Now that you’ve done it for a year, how do you feel about the role of tech in education as a profession?
  • Is this the right profession for you?
  • Is this the right grade for you / area for you?
  • Would you be OK teaching a dozen or 24 kids, in the woods, no books, no internet, Laura Ingalls style?

I would hope that 1st year teachers, reading books on the deck or sitting by the side of the pool, would make time to write on questions like this. I would hope that they would reach out to people like Shawna or Lauren or Doug, and continue in discussion what they’ve learned through their reflection. There is so much to be learned first through reflection, and then through talked about shared experiences.

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