I got so much out of September's Reflective Teacher Blog Challenge (it only took me two months to finish!), so I've decided to accept November's challenge. This month's theme is gratitude. Fitting, and particularly meaningful, not just for the season, but because I need to work on my cynicism. Not to become more bitter or sarcastic, but to polish my sandpapery side. To smooth out the rough edges that get in the way of being a better person, a kinder teacher. Here goes:
Day 1's question: What are the best aspects of being a teacher?
There are so many aspects that make being a teacher wonderful. I wake up excited to come to work. Yes, it's a job, yet I experience rewards beyond the rent check. Here are a few that popped up when I first read the question (and scanned some fellow bloggers' posts):
Watching and being a part of students' growth: What a fantastic feeling to be part of students' journey, seeing them find and trust their own voice. I get to see (and support) them move from dependence to independence. Students often come to my class used to following formulaic, mechanistic ways of expressing themselves. When I'm at my best, I help realize they can deliberately select from a variety of forms and strategies they can choose from to say what it is they need to say. When I'm at my best, many students leave my classes as problem-solvers, not "fill-in-the-blank" regurgitators.
Following up on my own learning passions: Luckily, as a writing teacher, I can pick the topics we study. So I get to stay relatively fresh on what's happening in the areas I most enjoyed when in graduate school: social justice, minority discourses, student development, and American literature.
Being member of a community with a higher purpose: I'm jazzed about being a part of a community of inspiring, passionate professionals - in my department, at my school site, in my professional development community (San Diego Area Writing Project), and now, as member of TeachThought's virtual community. I am honored to be among folks who make a positive difference.
Being a member of a profession devoted to reflective, relevant revision:The best teachers I know reflect on their purpose, their actions, and their effectiveness. They ask, "What I am doing that facilitates students learning?" They ask and assess students for their learning. They look twice and thrice at their practice and outcomes to see if learning actually happens, consistently making necessary changes. I'm constantly pushed to be better because of this exemplary practice.
There. A short burst of an attitude of gratitude. Perhaps my sandpaper exterior will be easier to burnish than I thought.