“No one can make anything work in anybody else’s classroom. It has to be self-initiated.”
Oh, how true it is. I have been revisiting Dylan William's work recently, going over some of my notes from the September conference when he was a keynote speaker at our school. Above is one of his quotes from that weekend. Being a self-initiated teacher leads to so many possibilities, but it isn't always so easy to do and requires us to constantly find inspiration from those around us. This inspiration fuels the fire of imagination, creativity, and innovation which leads to better teaching and deeper learning.
Teaching is already such a tough job and low motivation days are inevitable in our profession. We can't always be on our game, but recognizing when we need a shot of inspiration will help in steering our ships back on track. Seek the inspiration you need on days like this to allow the learning to continue moving forward.
Maximizing learning opportunities within the environment we've been given
When we really think about it, what is best practice? Best practice to one teacher may look completely different to another teacher and the reasons for this vary on a continual basis and are dependent upon a number of factors. I believe that we are all striving to become better educators by implementing what we feel is best practice in our programs. This very fact is a huge step in the direction of making a lasting impact on our students and is highly commendable on our parts.
While reaching for our best, we are constantly experimenting, tweaking, modifying, and adapting current practice while trying to bring in the next best idea into the mix. Best practice is so difficult to narrow down and quantifiably measure as every educator has been dealt a very unique hand of cards to play with. I have seen some AMAZING teachers who have little to no resources and hardly any teaching space to work in. These educators are incredibly innovative and creative due to the fact they have been forced to think outside the box when developing their programs. On the flip side, I have seen some teachers who have access to it all in terms of equipment and resources, however, their teaching is not what I consider to be effective in nature.
When it boils down to it, only we can answer the question “Did I do my best today?”. If the answer is no, forgive yourself quickly, but make it your goal to do better tomorrow. Best practice begins with answering the above question each and every day and maximizing learning opportunities within the teaching space we have been given. Doing so greatly benefits the learning of our students and makes us all better in the long run.
What are you going to take off your plate?
The great ideas on Twitter and other forms of social media will no doubt continue to come blasting at us in 2014. It is truly amazing to see all of the excellent practice happening in education. However, it is impossible to effectively implement too many good ideas at once. I think of Dylan William, the great educational consultant, and one thing in particular he said during his visit to Nanjing International School this past September; 'When trying to implement a new instructional strategy, what are you going to take off your plate to make space for it?'
As educators, many of us already have a number of excellent strategies that we already put into practice on a regular basis. It becomes quite challenging to just pile on a new strategy even if it is a better one. Teaching is already a tough enough job, so creating a pile on effect certainly does not make our professional lives any easier to manage. So, the bigger challenge becomes identifying what we are going to take off our plates in order to create space for the better strategies and ideas that come along.
When setting goals for yourself or implementing new instructional strategies, what are you going to take off your plate to free up space. Freeing up this space is critical to effectively implement your new idea. Not as easy as it sounds but very important to consider. Thanks for reading.
What can we all learn from a very strong girl named Grace?
My good friend and former football teammate from the University of Windsor, Joe McLinden, shared with me a very touching reflection written by his daughter Grace at school just before Christmas. Grace's life was almost cut short a couple of years ago when she suffered an aneurysm. Due to the amazing work of her doctors, Grace rebounded and fully recovered from the incident, however, she remains highly reflective about the whole ordeal.
I have always emphasized the power of reflection as an educator and the role that it plays in deepening our instructional practice. As educators we are responsible for helping to develop a reflective mindset in our students as it is a critical life skill that they will greatly benefit from as they progress through life and through their school years.
Authentic reflection is a powerful tool in which students can deeply think about and give gratitude for the blessings in their lives. We can all learn from this brave girl's reflection and I encourage you to read the words she wrote in the picture below. Great job Grace, you are an inspiration to other kids around the world!
KAUST Faculty, Pedagogical Coach. Presenter & Workshop Leader.IB Educator. #RunYourLife podcast host.