Part of why I took on so much this summer is because I struggled last school year. I am a good teacher. I can make this claim because I was recognized this past year by the Greater Green Bay Chamber Partners in Education with a Golden Apple Award. I realize you most likely do not know what this award is, but where I live it is an honor. Even though I am a good teacher, I struggled. When I look back on past years of teaching (especially those first few) there is so much I would differently now that I know better. That is the point of all this professional development, isn't it? To do better. There is one student in particular that I see around town. I worked with him one on one with an intervention program we were piloting. He and I both struggled for a semester and then our time together was over. The following year I started working with the US Math Recovery Council and now have a much better understanding of the help this student needed. Unfortunately he had moved on to high school and I am left with regrets. I am sure you can relate. That is why there are so many posters like this:
This is actually the quote that I referenced when talking to a colleague last year. My biggest struggle is that with all of this great professional development and wonderful supportive community on Twitter, I now know better. A lot better. The problem is I am struggling to do better. Since I know many people are reading the book I am going to use Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You'd Had as an example. If you haven't read it yet, you should. It is amazing. It is a comprehensive labor of love in which Tracy Zager has pulled together research, mathematician viewpoints, and classroom examples of everything those of us who love mathematics want for each of our students. You can feel the love and passion when you read it. It is everything I want for my classroom. I want to be the teachers in this book. I guess that is kind of the point. It is the name of the book. As I reflect on all that I learned in the book, these questions come to mind:
- Where do I start?
- How will I remember all that I want to do once the school year gets going?
- Last year as I improved some areas, others that I had been doing well fell away. How do I prevent this from happening again?
- Do the math teachers in this book see themselves as the math teacher they wish they had?
- Does every day in their class look this good?
- Do other teachers feel as behind as I do?
- How long will it take me to become this math teacher that see in my head?
- Will I ever get there?
The reflection for me, and anyone else who is reading this, is to remember that this is a process. There are many things I want to try/implement/create/do in my classroom this school year. It is ok if I don't get to all of them. It is ok if they don't go well. I cannot solve all of the problems in one school year. I need to have the same patience with myself as I do with my students. There is no such thing as perfection. I can't compare myself to other teachers. I need to do what works for me and feels right in my classroom. We are each taking our own journey.
With all of that in mind, I am ready to start another school year, reflecting on what I want to do differently, but at the same time acknowledging the great teacher I already am.