With a new school year upon us, I would like to take this time to throw a few questions out to any teachers reading this blog. But before doing so it is a good time for me to emphasize just how powerful a role I believe reflection plays in improving ourselves as teachers. My school year officially kicks off tomorrow as it is going to be the first day with my students. As I write this blog post, I am excited to start teaching again, but at the same time feeling a little overwhelmed by the fact that continued improvement of my teaching practice requires a tremendous amount of time and commitment. Taking the step and writing my first blog post of the 2013/2014 school year to me signifies a total switch in gears from holiday mode to work mode.
For those of you who know me personally or follow my blog, you know that I am a bit crazy-passionate about what I do. Simply put, I think that teaching is the greatest job in the world and not a day goes by where I feel as though it is a job. I was recently having a discussion with Ross Halliday on Google Hangout about many things related to good teaching practice. Ross and I were sharing our thoughts and ideas about what defines excellence within our profession and we both highlighted reflection as being critical in the process of seeking to improve our teaching.
For me personally, reflection plays a big part in both my personal and professional life and it is difficult for me to shut my mind off. I love all of those mysterious chance encounters and coincidences that we come across with regularity in our lives. I truly believe that we can learn something from each and every one of these precious moments.
My wife, Neila, loves reading and when she comes across inspirational quotes or passages from books that she personally connects with, she will take a non-permanent marker and plaster the words up on the walls of our kitchen. There are moments when the walls in the kitchen are completely covered with pictures, words, and phrases. When I came home from my morning run yesterday I saw this quote:
I read it over a couple of times and couldn’t help but make a connection between the quote and how I am feeling about starting up another school year. I believe that we really do need to create space in our heads, our hearts, and our lives when beginning a new school year. We need to clear the clutter from the previous year and open ourselves to new possibilities in our teaching. We need to set professional growth goals and identify areas in need of improvement or areas needing further development.
We need to ask ourselves what is working well for us in regards to our instructional practice. We must identify what is not working so well and what we want. Most importantly, we must address what we have to do next if we are to continue to improve our own learning journeys and the learning journeys of our students. In living the quote from above I ask you to ‘Create space in your head, heart and life. To create some new possibilities start to ask yourself: What’s working? What’s not? What do I want? And What’s next?
The very best of luck to all of you for the 2013-2014 school year. Happy teaching folks!
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.