Lesley Cameron is a teacher I am proud to say I work with at Forest Green School. She has rejoined our staff after a year maternity leave, yet this has been our first year working together. She has done some amazing things and has shown tremendous growth this year as an educator within her grade 3 classroom. I have said that the signs of the best teachers are that they are continuous learners; Lesley embodies this as an educator.
It’s the end of August. Time for a new school year. My maternity leave is over. Back to school with lots of ‘new’ things – new administration, new grade, new students. Change is in the air. I knew returning to school after a maternity leave was going to be difficult. As I was gearing up for a new school year and mentally preparing to leave my two babies when returning to work, I have to admit, I was a bit stressed.
I am a huge perfectionist and always have been. I have high expectations for myself and always have. Throughout grade school and university, I always needed to strive for top marks and beat myself up over anything less. Was this a bad thing? At the time, I didn’t think so. It led me to work hard for what I wanted to achieve and to achieve the success I had dreamed of.
On the first PD Day, my new principal showed a short video clip entitled “Two Questions” inspired from Dan Pink’s new book, Drive. One of the two questions focused on in the video was “What’s Your Sentence?” So I got thinking, “What is going to be the one question that drives my year?” More broad than that, what is going to drive my teaching? In conversations with my principal, George Couros, about my control and perfectionism, he suggested, “risk taking does not fit with perfection”. Instantly, I knew it fit. Something I wanted to work on was being more of a risk taker so that I can model it for my students. Being a risk taker to me means trying new things and learning from my mistakes. Knowing that everything will not be perfect is okay. The process of learning never ends and is even heightened as we make mistakes. This included learning about using technology, my Smart Board, our classroom blog, e-portfolios, and the list goes on. To be honest, these new technologies worried a perfectionist like me.
So… how’s it going? I must say, it has been pretty great! I decided to jump right in, take on these new challenges, and try to live my life more as a risk taker. I love using my Smart Board to actively engage my students in their learning, am actively blogging, and have a “Blogger of the Week” program in my classroom. We have our e-portfolios set up and will begin adding to them in the New Year! Further to that, I am learning about social media and am so amazed and excited to have connections around the world. Thanks to a great blog post written by one of my students and the many comments made on it, George connected me with a teacher living in Jakarta, Indonesia, as an expert for a research topic in my Social Studies program. We Skyped in with him and learned so much about the Muslim culture and celebrations. We have a great video of our conversation to look back on embedded in another post on our blog! What an unbelievable experience for my students as well as myself. I have recently created a Twitter account and am looking forward to the connections possible through there and the wealth of knowledge, information, and ideas through the great networks of educators!
The second question in Dan Pink’s video was “Was I better today than yesterday?” What a great reflective question to ask oneself as a means to continually strive for improvement. I am always looking for ways to be a better teacher, communicator, staff member, and leader in our school community. I think it’s important to reflect on my practice and ensure that I’m meeting the needs of my students the best I can every single day. Being able to show my students that I’m willing to take risks and learn along the way has been an important part of my year.
While it has been a challenging year for me trying to balance everything, I must admit I like a challenge! It has also been one of the most rewarding years for me (and it’s only 4 months into the school year!) as I feel I have shown growth already and I have committed to bettering myself, becoming a risk taker, and am trying to be more reflective along the way.
If you don’t already have a sentence, now is a great time to ask yourself, “What’s My Sentence?” and reflect on your day with the question, “Was I better today than yesterday?”
Check out the video below: