About a year ago, while I was dealing with some medical issues, I saw a posting for a job in Alaska.. Alaska is kind of the dream retirement or at least later years of life vision that my husband and I have been thinking about for years. So I decided to go for it. I looked over my resume, and I told my husband, “You know I’m not 100% sure that I am even qualified for this job.” Because he’s an amazingly supportive man, he convinced me to try. I submitted my resume, wrote a cover letter, and then life went on. I rarely thought about it until one day, months later, I was joking with some friends that “Haha, this is comical that I would have even thought that I had a shot at a job like this.” Then, as life sometimes does, it surprised me. Within a few days of that conversation, I got an email from that district in Alaska expressing interest in my resume and asking me to complete their full application.
As it turned out, the full application was mildly terrifying at first glance and involved a series of eleven short answer questions and four more lengthy responses. I read the questions and thought, “I can do this, right? CAN I do this???” This was the hardest thing I think I have ever written in my entire life.
This year makes my twelfth year in education. I’m still a rookie by a lot of people’s standards, but for others, I’m the middle aged teacher. I have to admit even though I’ve done lots of reflecting on lessons, units, content, etc., this was the first time that I think I have really been challenged to stop and think about what I believe regarding education. This writing experience realistically changed my whole perception on what I’m doing and really caused me to make some serious life changes. I accepted a new job that challenges me a ridiculous amount every day. I am terrified sometimes that I’m going to somehow mess everything up, but I am daring to live boldly for perhaps the first time in my life.
So, my dear readers, I would just really like to encourage all of you no matter what part of education you are in right now, what phase of life really, to stop and spend some time with one or two of the questions I am going to pose to you below. These are some of the questions that were raised in me by this experience and some that I have adapted from the originals. I know that this is a difficult exercise, but try taking some time to “stream of consciousness” write down everything that you think of when you see these questions. I think you may find that you are in a completely different thought space than you were when you began in education, and that maybe – just maybe – that’s really an amazing thing.
Dare to live boldly today!
Question 1: In general, what is your philosophy on the best way to raise student achievement?
Question 2: How can you best interact with the diverse groups that make up your community?
Question 3: What personal qualities do you possess that make you an amazing educator?
Question 4: What weaknesses do you possess that make working as an educator a challenge, and how do you compensate for those?
Question 5: In what ways does your own personal philosophy of education align – or not align – with your school or district?
4 responses to “The Case for Self-Reflection”
A1: Teach them to learn for self satisfaction not grades. Achievement is personal.
A2: Empathy always.
A3:Rememberingvthat nothing has greater value than people themselves.
A4: Fear is a downfall if it over rides production. Make up for it by perseverance and grit.
A5: Reminding self that the whole, the job, district, whom ever is an employer…Their philosophies guide their business plan, not my heart. It isn’t personal, it’s a monetary arrangement. Employers pay employees for a job task, dong own you. Work with pride for yourself.
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Thank you so much for sharing this, Denise!! I love the part about “Their philosophies guide their business plan, not my heart.”
I think a good way to raise student achievement would be to personalize the material to cater to the individual. For example, it was really difficult for me to engage in one of my course’s content about nationalism in India, but in my Twilight of Antiquity class, I am thoroughly passionate about the material thus interested in achieving exceptional grades in that course. Also, I attended the Metropolitan Museum for my second time this past November and seeing the Graeco-Roman statuary from my textbooks towering over my being was tear-jerking. Find a way to connect it to the interests of that particular student, but I concede that it might not always be possible.
I feel the best method of interaction could stem from that one bible verse, “be quick to listen and slow to speak.” As a listener, you fully comprehend and immerse yourself in what your diverse counterpart is saying rather than focus on what your next response will be. Through this mutual respect, empathy and understanding could blossom.
Passion towards the subject and humor go a long way in teaching.
Considering that I’m not an educator, I refrain from answering the latter two.
However, I’m thrilled to have stumbled upon your post, and I still think of your AP Psych class with the utmost fondness.
I cannot begin to express what it means to me that you read what I wrote and took the time to respond! Thank you.
You are absolutely correct in that personal connections to material make all the difference in the world. My heart tells me this is true, and thankfully, science confirms it.
Last school year, I went through a course on how to more effectively coach teachers, and they stressed good listening skills. I am now hyper aware of good listening skills. So frequently, especially in our fast-paced world, we are over stimulated and fail to truly listen. Listening is active, and it’s hard.
I’m so thankful to hear from you… you were an amazing student, and it is clear to me that you’ve continued on as an amazing adult. 😊