After a VERY productive summer (Dissertation defense is HAPPENING October 18th!!) I am ready to start writing about teaching again. SO much writing happened this summer. Shout out to my writing pal, Jesse, who set up a writing group. We met each morning Monday through Friday via the interwebs. We set goals for ourselves and then wrote for two hours. I honestly do not think I would have been as productive had it not been for that writing group.
In the music education world we like to play it safe. We often stick with our people: like-minded music educators who have dealt with the same battles: budget, schedules, numbers, frustrating administrators, concerts, pep bands, etc. The list goes on and on. While our struggles are similar I find that other areas of education often have similar struggles (minus the bus being late for the state tournament basketball game).
One of my professional goals this year is to build better connections with people who are in the same profession as me. Not music educators, but other educators. I have come to realize that I have taught in the same building for four years and there are still people that I have not spoken with, or who I don’t recognize. This became apparent at a staff meeting when a bunch of us from different subjects were sitting at a table together and we had to introduce ourselves. I know for a fact that we had all been teaching in the building for at least two years.
Our building is pretty big. We have about 2,000 students and I honestly don’t even know how many staff. Each department is pretty insular, at least from an outsiders view, and I get that. We have similar interests and often similar prep hours. However, I wonder would would happen if we got out of our safe places and got to know our colleagues a bit more.
One of my hopes this year is to visit other classrooms during my prep hour and either observe or participate as a learner. There are so many amazing teachers at South working with the students in really interesting ways and engaging in conversations I could only have dreamed about as a teenager. I want to learn from my colleagues about how to be a better group discussion facilitator. I think we can learn a lot from each other, even if it isn’t in our “content” area. I would also love to go and observe the ELL classes because so many of the students I work with are EL students, I would like to find better ways in which I can connect with students with limited English skills.
I’m genuinely interested in my colleagues beyond their skills as teachers. I want to get to know them more because I think that will strengthen our community at school-a ‘theme’ that is permeating many of the discussions occurring in and out of the classroom. Community and connections are important, but they don’t just happen. We also can’t force them. They need to be sincere attempts at getting to know the person.
What professional or personal goals do you have this year? How do you think these goals will be reached? Why do you have these goals?
Poster by Ricardo Morales.