January can be a hard time for teachers. You arrive at school before the sun comes up, you leave after the sun has gone down and it’s so very cold because no school has ever in the history of schools managed to perfect the art of heating classrooms.
January can also be a really exciting time for teachers. The students (for the most part) are settled into their routines, there is a large chunk of time before the next major holiday and it’s dreary enough that students are not longingly staring out the window wishing they could frolic outside. This means that MAJOR content can be covered, recovered, challenged, debated, explored and investigated. #teacherhappyplace
In all of the exploring, debating and uncovering that is going to go on between January and March, I want to focus in on my action plan and really get good at using peer to peer feedback. I want to try different times (i.e. morning classes vs afternoon classes), different groupings (friends vs pairs based on needs), different projects (essay vs lab report vs presentation) and different styles (do we use the rubric vs more general feedback).
This is my season to attempt and fail, it is my season to learn and grow and it is my season to dive into peer-to-peer feedback and find ways that it can be incorporated to help the students learn resiliency when it comes to accepting and using feedback.
It is rare that I attend PD where I go home so tired, and yet, so invigorated and refreshed. My brain hurts. I’ve thought a lot leading up to today about my action plan, my goals and what success would look like for my actions. I’ve seen some success, but I also know I have a long way to go to really get to where I want to be in my own teaching to have the impact I want this project to have on my students and their resiliency.
Today I thought, talked, reflected even more and was challenged (in a good way) and all of this kept me returning to my ideas with new lenses to see how else I could best enhance peer-to-peer feedback for my students as a piece of their resiliency puzzle.
I don’t think my “how might we” statement changed today, but I do think that I’ve changed how I need to go about approaching my next steps. This is the beautiful thing about having so many talented, reflective and critical thinkers in the same space is that you can approach an idea from so many ways with so many background experiences in a 20-minute session because everyone has something they can contribute. And this, my friends, is why I am so exhausted and so recharged all at the same time. I am processing, and connecting all of the great ideas and I can’t wait to try them in my own space, but thinking is hard. Quality thinking is hard.
This week I gained a whole new perspective on teaching. I am now a teacher-parent (or is it parent-teacher?). My newly minted 3 – year old son started full-time daycare on Monday. He went from being home with a caregiver having full attention, to being in a room of 18 students with 2 adults – slightly less than 1:1 attention he was used to throughout the day. To say it has been a smooth transition would be an absolute lie.
It’s the first time I’ve been the “parent” in the parent-teacher relationship and day 1 challenged me. I felt awful leaving the first day and wondered if we had made the right choice. I wanted to make excuses for behaviour, but I knew I didn’t want to be “that” parent. I also know that if he was at home, I would have disciplined the behaviour as well, so there was no reason to make excuses as it was inexcusable. I know kids are resilient and bounce back after some transition time, and I’ve seen it a lot with my own work, but it’s different when you are the parent.
The next day we went in, and the teachers were so cheerful to see my very apprehensive son that it immediately set him at ease. One of the teachers remembered an activity he enjoyed the day before and set him up doing that right away. My parent brain was going “that’s so sweet” as I left and headed myself to work and later, upon reflection, my teacher-brain went “she set my son up for success first thing, she’s creating a relationship with him, she’s learning about how he learns” and this whole experience got me thinking about what we do as teachers each start of a term, each start of a week, each start of a class to build relationships and set our students up for success. This then got me thinking that maybe I’m not the only teacher coming back from break thinking about curriculum outcomes, how many school days I have to get through them and all of the other “content” parts of my job. Maybe I’m not the only turkey-comatose adult needing a reminder to put relationships first in the next few weeks (then again, maybe I am….there was a lot of turkey going around).