One thing that I have learned about blogging is that it is a beautiful way to see your growth over time. Bill Ferriter, both a friend and a colleague I look up to, recently wrote a post titled, “Maybe There IS Some Value in Graphic Novels?“, Where he shows a change in attitude toward a practice in education where he once shared an opposite viewpoint. It is great to be able to see the documentation of your growth and focus of thinking in one space.
As I was talking to a group of educators this past week, I shared that if you do not look back at the beginning of your career with a little bit of embarrassment, you should be concerned that you haven’t grown. No matter how great you were when you started, you should be better now. Learning, not only teaching, is part of the job.
So to share a little bit of my learning over the year, I wanted to highlight five posts that were read the most from my blog in 2017. This is an archive for my learning as well as an opportunity to share with others. It also shows where my focus was as I wrote. Here are some of the posts from the year that seemed to connect most with the people reading this blog:
- “5 Questions to Ask Your Students To Start the School Year” – This post was meant to be a simple way to get to know your students in a way that would serve them throughout the year. Focusing on finding out student strengths and belief of what success means, would be a great way to tap into the passion of the students. This post is a reminder for me that if we learn about our students and focus on empowering them, we create conditions where the student will eventually not need us to be successful, which is an essential point of education.
- “Some of the Worst Advice You Will Ever Get as an Educator” – Early in my career (and based on the reaction to the post, I am not the only one), I was advised to “not smile until after Christmas.” Although it is crucial to determine routines in the classroom, it is also crucial to do it with kindness and caring. Having high expectations for your students can be done through building relationships; the two are not mutually exclusive.
- “4 Ways To Not Let Others Dim Your Light” – I will admit that I wrote this post for myself as much as I did for anyone else. As in any profession, there can be a lot of negativity in education, and sometimes comes from a place where some are frustrated seeing others succeed. A reminder…You are not in education to make your colleagues feel comfortable. You are there to make a difference. If that makes someone feel uncomfortable, that is when I put it into the “YP” category; “your problem” not mine. Keep shining brightly.
- “3 Misconceptions About Innovation in Education” – Innovation is something that I have had a major focus on in the last few years. It seems to be a word that is used all over the education world, but often in an incorrect manner. It is important that when the word “innovation” is used in the context of education, we challenge it so that it stays meaningful and does not become something we simply “say” but we continue to “do.”
- “You Are Not a Number” and “From “Data-Driven” to “Evidence-Informed”– I put these two posts together because their theme is obviously connected. No educator jumped into the profession so they could “test kids”; we became educators to trajectories. As systems become more focused on data, don’t forget that you can use data (more importantly evidence) to help a student, but it should never be used to define them.
As I look at this list, I have seen that as I have had more of a focus on my own mental and physical health this year, my posts have focused a lot more on the social-emotional well-being of students and educators alike. I really appreciate all of the people who have taken the time to read and comment on what I have shared this year, and hope that this new year coming up is one where you continue to find your own success, whatever that may look like.