I guess I got off to a rocky start in this little career of mine. My first six years were six first years. (That's right.) I was placed in a different grade level or asked to fill whatever holes existed in the schedule of my school at the time. It felt like an endless whirl of trial and error experimentation, where I never got the chance to build upon what I'd learned, but just started over instead.
Only recently, it seems, have I come over a sort of hump. I am currently teaching a course that I designed myself, and I'm doing it for the third time.
What used to end in nightly tears and phone calls to my mom is now maybe the best gig on earth.
I have stopped simply surviving. This is critical for me, because to be honest, I think I would have left the profession if that feeling didn't turn. In my eighth year now, I am in a pretty happy place where my ideas are informed by my practice, I am refining my curriculum, I am exploring creative projects and challenging my students' curiosity and
<insert voices of angels singing>
Except ... not exactly.
What actually happened was that I got bored and frustrated. I was coasting and recycling lessons and I wasn't particularly inspired most of the time. I still loved the kids and the job, but ... meh.
It took me a long time to realize some fundamental things about this career that have completely altered my perspective of it, and of myself in it. I've narrowed it down to THREE TRUTHS, and these things are what led me to Twitter.
The teaching day is so hectic, and as much as I appreciate and enjoy my colleagues, it rarely feels that we truly work together. I don't know what the math teacher next door is working on, and I might be the only person, besides dozens of students, who knows what I'm working on. It is a challenge for creative people to grow in an environment where ideas aren't being bounced back and forth and feedback is limited.
My current school provides professional feedback very consistently, and that is an awesome thing. I love that it is a place that values growth and a healthy dose of change. As great as it is to have more PD, though, it is still school-wide stuff. While I don't expect the seminars and workshops to cater to my specific needs and desires for my classroom practice, I still totally want that, too.
I work with some really great folks, truly. And we collaborate here and there. But I'm also the only one who does exactly what I do the way I do it. The people who I really would love to sit with and learn from teach in San Diego or Australia or Rome, and we don't have the same planning periods. The best professional learning community I can have needs to transcend time and space.
And so, Twitter. This silly little piece of media has been transformative in addressing these professional obstacles. I am regularly able to be inspired by the work of others and am motivated by the cool things I see them doing in their classrooms. It has helped me set goals and it makes me work harder toward them. I have little internet teacher crushes and love that I get to have meaningful conversations with these people.
I'm really going to push you to give it a shot. Then you can join me on #engchat next week!
More Twitter love: Part 2