Before the pandemic, I rarely read blog posts that weren’t written by teachers of English as a foreign language.
As far as I was concerned, “enhancing my teaching skills” meant reflecting on EFL teaching practices, learning new techniques, and getting acquainted with additional teaching resources.
However, I find the ongoing experience of teaching alongside a pandemic quite stressful. As the months go by of yet another school year rocked by instability I find myself drawn to posts that fulfill a different need.
These are blog posts that support a teacher’s well-being and reflect on what it means to be a teacher.
When I see a new post from George Couros’s blog land in my inbox, I keep it unread until I can sit and give it my full attention. His posts are often about the conversations I’m not having with anyone but wish I did.
The post “Why People Keep Going” is one that needs to be more than just read. I need to personalize it, think about it, make my own version.
Retirement isn’t on the horizon yet (despite teaching for 35 years) so reminding myself of why I go to class each morning is necessary.
In addition, this blog isn’t called “Visualising Ideas” for no reason – I’m itching to liven up some of those gray visuals!
*** George Couros presented sixteen points in his post. I am reflecting on seven of them, and adding one of my own.
Some of my students are Making clear progress, despite the difficult conditions. Therefore, even those students with the sketchiest attendance must still be getting something out of the lessons they do attend – I just haven’t seen the “shoots” burst out yet. I must hold on to that thought.
2. Future Focused
This is a point which I’m struggling with right at this moment. Having a clearly defined plan of what is expected of them and knowing “where we are going” this semester absolutely does mean something to my 11th and 12th graders. It matters. However, with my 10th graders it’s an uphill battle. It took an incredible amount of energy in the first semester “to get the information to sink in”, including posting the plan in class, sending them individual messages talking to them and then the homeroom teacher…
Now a new semester has begun and I balk at having to repeat the process. Some students have already made it clear that I must – I should be preparing individual notes for the students instead of writing this blog post…
Yet writing this post reminds me that venting is good, tomorrow is a new day. Right?
3. Recognize Other People’s Struggles
Bearing this in mind helps. A lot.
4. Work as a Team
The pandemic has placed a lot of constraints on meeting team members. Not only have many teachers have been out due to the pandemic, I basically stay away as much as possible from the staff room, eating my lunch in the English Room or outside. However, I have found that making an effort to seek out staff members during my free periods is truly one of things that keeps me going.
5. Manage Time
Actually, LETTING GO of “managing time” is what is keeping me going. I am getting less done posted (perhaps you have noticed that I haven’t about my books recently…) but I find I need more frequent breaks. Lot’s of tea. And time to play “Wordle”!
6. Find solutions
Ha! Until I sat down to write this post I hadn’t really considered that I have “my “Special Ed Teacher” skills here on my side! A student needs to take her test at a different hour from everyone else, while another needs a retest, yet another has lost his notebook, doesn’t have a pen, can’t remember his password to the class site – that’s nothing new for me. Pandemic or not – that’s a reality I can deal with!
Well, Mr. Couros (may I call you George?), I wouldn’t need this lengthy reflection on your post if the experience of meeting certain students 3 hours a month (instead of 4 hours a week!) hadn’t rocked my confidence in my ability to teach them more than they knew before they met me.
It’s a good thing I’m a blogger. Facing fears, in writing, is a step forward.
I do feel better.
The following point is not in the original post:
8. Move out of your comfort zone within the safety net of a beloved hobby
Part of taking a good look at myself as a teacher, reflecting what I can and what I must strive to do better, is , well, actually looking at myself.
So, this year’s challenge in my journey to develop my skills as a photographer includes placing myself in the front of the lens.
Lessons in confidence, 101.