Assignment # 2 – The chance of a lifetime

“Whatever you do, do it with purpose. Being focused is not something to be ashamed of. It is something to be proud of. When you know what are you are doing and have a clear vision of where you are going, you will not need to chase opportunities. Opportunities will seek you. Happiness will chase you. And, instead of being a choice, you will be the one choosing.”
― Najwa Zebian, Mind Platter

Read this.

Then this.

And this.

What are your next steps?

Tell us below, as a comment.

27 Replies to “Assignment # 2 – The chance of a lifetime”

  1. I am proud of the job I do everyday, and I know in my heart-of-hearts that I put my best effort into every lesson I create. I’ve been honing my craft for over twenty years, yet each year there’s a new student who makes me work for it! My next step is to continue looking for the best way to inspire and motivate every student. I’m always in search of the next trick I can add to my toolbox.

  2. If the choices we make in the classroom are made with focus and purpose, we can be certain they’re made with the best intentions.

    The post that started with “here, I made this” made me think of all the amazing work my students have produced using technology. In previous years, I’ve attended NEOTIE sessions that shared new websites and apps that I’d never heard of prior to attending the conference, such as PearDeck, Flubaroo, LucidPress, Canva, and WeVideo. The NEOTIE sessions I attended this year were more about learning new ways to apply websites and programs I’ve already heard of, and finding better ways to utilize them to support teaching and learning. When students are comfortable creating and sharing knowledge in their own ways, and promotes the “effort, originality, and skill” referenced in that post.

    The third blog post linked above felt directly applicable to several conversations I had with colleagues today. Every educator is feeling at least some bit of stress over the challenges in education today: Improving student performance. Closing learning gaps. Keeping up with teacher evaluation requirements, TBT protocols, and SLO data. Responding to parent concerns. Making time for meetings to discuss IEPs, 504s, RtI.
    The responsibilities can make “teaching kids” feel like it’s falling low on the to-do list, when it needs to be central to our focus and time. Seth the blogger said, “But it makes no sense at all to grumble and do something poorly. To insist that the competition is playing unfairly. To try to persuade your market that their standards make no sense…” I think these words have great value in our current state of education. He goes on to say, “The market is selfish. It doesn’t care a whit about how hard you’re working or how difficult the task is.” While we can certainly try to provide input and help improve the “system,” in the end, we have a responsibility to help students succeed. To prepare them for the next level, and for a future of success and lifelong learning.

    1. “in the end, we have a responsibility to help students succeed” Very powerful. I like your analysis of the current state of education, the stresses we all carry, and what really matters. I wonder if we pulled back a bit, and shifted our focus back on the kids (fully) we may see different outcomes?

  3. The next step is to create something new! The advice Seth gives is golden. He is right in that every moment can be the most important moment in a person’s life. It in more important to reinforce that that person is likely not you, but another you affect.

    As for teaching, I feel this was a great centering experience. I have been feeling a bit pressured to move with material. These posts reminded me to keep in the personal touches and tributes to students that I have worked to put into assignments. And to keep working at it!

  4. ¨Here, I made this” is what I give to my students every day. I created this experience, which flows from what we did yesterday and what we will learn tomorrow. And in this experience I have assembled the knowledge, examples, and tasks in a way that will help you realize something interesting about our world, or complete a task that seemed too difficult to attempt, or challenged you in a way that stretched the limits of your mind a bit. I find it my purpose to pursue that which makes me a better teacher, and must enjoy it because I spend a portion of my free time and thought dedicated to delivering an interesting and meaningful experience in my class. And capitalizing on opportunities, like the technology classes and integration into my classroom, leads to other opportunities like presenting at NEOTIE. I think of the TED talk slogan ¨Ideas worth spreading¨ and think of myself as both a collector and more recently a distributor of interesting and innovative ideas. My next step is assuming a role I am just starting to feel comfortable in, giving out advice, wisdom, & knowledge rather than gathering and hoarding it.

    1. “I find it my purpose to pursue that which makes me a better teacher, and must enjoy it because I spend a portion of my free time and thought dedicated to delivering an interesting and meaningful experience in my class.” Powerful. Very powerful. I’m ready [want to] to learn more from / with you.

    2. Christian, I wish I had sat in on your session. Teaching was not my first career field either. Technology has evolved during the time I received my degree as-well-as my time that I have taught. I was hired into my district because I discussed in my interview how I used tech in my classroom. Imagine, an Apple II GS shared between 10 students… Ah, those were the days. Don’t laugh, this was 1997. Although we are not yet 1-1, it sure beats 1-10.

  5. I want the “market” to keep me on the shelf, don’t have to be on the end cap, & certainly don’t want to be banished to the discount section in the back of the store. I continue to evolve/improve as a teacher, advisor, and counselor (TAC). Even though I can see the “finish Line” in my present career, I want to finish strong. I strive to improve my product, analyze/improve my delivery. I look for opportunities that allow myself to remain in“tune” with my students. Besides my middle school “gig”, I also TAC for adult learners. Here the emphasis isn’t so much as the content, rather the relevancy of the material to the learner. After completed a course this past summer geared towards adult learners incorporating the experiential learning model (ELM). I was wondered how I had gotten away from connecting lessons in my own middle school classroom. Basically, all ages need to find relevancy in what they are learning. My audience needs to be connected to the material in some way. So I continue to keep my content fresh & relevant by improving my craft and product. Writing grants to help my department, sharing ideas with those open to them, listening to talk within my Twitter network. What am I good at? Self-awareness, knowing I’m not the best but striving to improve and through this desire have an effect of those I serve.

    1. You inspire me. Thank you for sharing, and thinking about what you do. And moving upwards, and forward, regardless of where you are on the career timeline!

  6. I am really good at teaching and I have no reserve about saying this to others. It is not because I have the best lesson plans, the most elaborate centers activities, or the latest technological tools. I am good because I have a passion for educating young children. For most of my students, the six hours they spend with me might be the only attention they get all day. I utilize every minute of my day sharing the joy of learning and the excitement of exploring our world. There are days I feel like I could win an Oscar for my teaching performance. On other days I become a counselor for my special needs students and a militant drill sergeant for those that need a little tough love. Each student comes into my classroom as a unique individual. I find such joy in shaping and molding them to become what they were truly meant to be. I may only have them for nine months, but I want them to remember their experience as a first grader forever. I want to be remembered as, “the best teacher ever!”

  7. These were really cool, thought provoking readings. Our department is finally up for curriculum re-write and it always seems that admin. truly regards us as “foreign.” They don’t really understand what we do, why we do it, or how we get there. Even when it comes to writing SLO’s, we are different and we have to explain why that is every year. Also, our school is looking into possibly changing our day to day schedule because change is good….so they say;) I liked the comment in “Do what you are good at” about it not making sense to grumble and doing something poorly. There is so much change going to happen departmentally and school wide that it may be daunting, but could be for the better. I need to educate myself and be an advocate for my profession and colleagues in order for these changes to be positive. Let’s face it….change is hard. As much as I would love to drag my feet in the sand, that doesn’t do anyone any good. Stay with the times, keep an open mind, and educate yourself. These things ultimately will positively affect the reasons why we got into this profession….our students!

  8. Wow! I never really thought about those four words, “Here. I made this.” That’s profound. I make things (art), share them, and show people how to make them, every day. I distill my knowledge and create an opportunity for students to succeed by showing them, “Here. You can make this too. I’ll show you how.” This may sound simplistic, but it should be. When I make a project example, they often get excited. When they see what I made for them, they know I will do everything in my power to help them achieve the same goal. Sharing my artistic skills with others is very personal. It is a side not visible on the surface. In this way I also show them to express themselves and share what they’ve “made”. My students are my audience and my students’ creations are as much a reflection on me as they are on them.
    I often feel that in a project-based classroom, such as art, the learned skill is more apparent than in a course that strictly relies on grades as the outcome. The effort, originality and skill is more visually apparent. The process that students go through to create something requires so much guidance, patience, resilience, and originality on their parts. What they “made” shows every little trick or tip I showed them. Just to be sure, I even make students create a pre-instruction example. This allows them to see just how much knowledge I imparted, because they can see the improvement they made. It is so rewarding when they achieve something they never had before. To know that I helped them “make” something is a joy. I don’t think students see this aspect of their education, or the efforts their teachers make, daily. The ideas and skills all teachers impart are a gift.

  9. “I made this” for me is not as concrete and finite as I’d like it to be. I am constantly making, constantly finding new “this’s”, and delivering an experience, an idea, a concept, a motion to my audience to deliver the “here” portion of my handiwork. I want to be the best, deliver the best, instruct the best, lead by example and I consider those strategic life/career choices on a constant basis. My next step is to lead by example in my building. When one is told that they are the only teacher using tech in their instructional practices, and using it well, that is the chance of a lifetime to inspire, lead, and connect with other educators on that. very. level. I’m up for that responsibility.

  10. Has teaching been my ‘chance of lifetime?’ I’m not sure. I can tell you that when I was a little girl, I played school with my siblings in our office all the way from chalkboards and books, to homework and recess. I actually wanted to become a veterinarian. I realized as I got older that I will always have my love for animals, but I have been graced with something, maybe it is a craft, patience with kids (most of the time) and I knew that helping their small minds along can have a huge impact on not only their world, but ours. I didn’t know if I would even cut it as a teacher, but I appreciated in the reading the quote, “Do what you’re good at, or…get really good at what you do.” I feel like I’ve worked very hard in getting where I am at today and continue to pursue new knowledge almost daily.
    Change is the only constant in life. The work we do in education is forever shifting paradigms and we must change with it. Question is…who is really up for the challenge?
    .

    1. I agree. Change is constant, and something we need to embrace, and become comfortable with. Fortunately, we have choices in life, where some are not so lucky.

  11. Chances do leap out of nowhere. As I reflect on the state of my courses for all 4 grades of 200 STEM students, grasping opportunities for them to have real world experiences does just show up. My lesson has been: take them when at all possible! I could never have planned the opportunity (turned real PBL) that allowed the 75-6th graders last year to research, design, survey, meet with stakeholders, meet with decision makers, create and support, vote and finalize the plan for a lunch-time outdoor sports equipment project. They did, and it was built over the summer. Next week will be the grand opening of the Perry Ninja Pirate Area behind the lunchroom. This was never in my plan, and was all due to a comment about students needing exercise at lunch, and a little grant money. The students MADE that happen. They OWN it with pride of effort, discussion and decision.
    Another example of opportunity for learning just showing up is recently as 7th graders study structures and bridges, the local Perry Village Market is building a new store. Our classes hiked to the site (just 0.5 mi) to watch and sketch the roof trusses being placed. They sketch, measure, draw, dimension – all evidence of learning. Until, gasp! “Wait! They have 30 trusses on that building, I thought there were only two, one on each end.” As the instructor, I may never have uncovered the missing link in students’ understanding, had it not been for the “fortunate and timely construction.”
    So what are my next steps? Huge PBL opportunities do not come around often, last year I was both open and lucky. Going forward, staying flexible and leaving more “flex time” is imperative, and “just say Yes!”

    1. Great examples of simple to implement learning strategies… if you’re eyes are open, and you’re willing to travel!

  12. My next step- I feel that depending the year and/or time of year I often straddle between steps. I am always trying to make my mounds of paperwork smoother/stream lined. There are many times when new papers are added to the list of items that I have to already complete, so I need to remember to add these requirements along with doing the papers. I am always juggling dates- to never be out of compliance. I am always at the mercy of others who juggle dates where I need to be part of their dates and sometimes they forget me but because I always have the dates- I remind them to include me. I try to move to the next step and keep ahead of deadlines so that I can enjoy life outside of work. I am always reading and learning about my trade- which involves many areas being a Speech Language Pathologist. I am happy with making baby steps. As long as I keep moving forward – it’s good.

  13. After reading “Do what you’re good at, or…” I felt a little ashamed of myself. Sometimes we do find ourselves grumbling about things that are out of our control, yet we feel control us. For example, as I’ve grumbled about before, the third grade reading guarantee. I just need to keep reminding myself everyday that I’m not going to change it, so I need to embrace it. I need to come to work everyday and do everything within my own power to make my students the best readers I can. My one friend has an analogy about standing in a hula hoop. When someone would complain or worry about someone else, she would ask them if that problem was in the hula hoop. If it wasn’t, then you need to let go of it.
    “Here I made this” makes me think of the hundreds of children (many now adults) whose lives I’ve impacted. I love to see them as adults and hear about how I’ve made a difference in their lives. Look, I helped make that!
    “The chance of a lifetime” makes me realize that sometimes I might be the only smiling face these kids see all day. That wink or high five may be the best part of their day. Or the cartwheel that I did today for a student that passed her multiplication test might be a memory every kid in the class will remember. It’s not always about what we teach them, but how we made them feel.

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