Posted in 2017, Classroom, Collaboration, Literacy, Reflection, Slice of Life

#SOL17 Day 17: A Shift in Perspective

As I sit here the night before placements for next year are released, my mind is spinning with possibilities. Where will I teach? What grade level will I teach? Who will be my teammates? How will my transition back to the classroom go? Will I be as good of a teacher now as I was when I moved into a mentoring position six years ago?

While I don’t have any answers right now–and some of my questions won’t be answered for quite awhile–it’s that last question that I think about the most. So tonight, as I wait for news that’s still many (slightly agonizing) hours away, I think about all of the ways in which my deepest beliefs about teaching have evolved during my time out of the classroom:

I used to think relationships were important. Now I know they are. Relationships with kids, parents, and colleagues are the very foundation of the work we do every day as teachers.

I used to think my classroom had to look perfect and cute on the first day of school. Now I know that my classroom should be a canvas for students to leave their own marks on when they arrive in the fall.

I used to think I did my best work by myself. Now I know that I can do even better work with a strong team.

I used to think I was a teacher who liked to read and write. Now I realize I’m a writer and reader who likes to teach.

I used to think my hallway displays had to be inspired by my own creative genius (of which I have very little when it comes to designing hallway displays). Now I know that the students need a voice and ownership in showcasing their learning.

I used to think my lessons were all about strong teaching. Now I know that my lessons need to be all about student learning. 

I used to think unstructured time in the classroom was wasted time. Now I realize that kids need some unstructured time to explore, discuss, and drive their own learning.

I used to think homework was essential for building responsibility and accountability. Now I believe that the work students should be expected to do outside of school should be an invitation to read, write and learn more, not a mandate that will lower their grade if they fail to turn in a worksheet or reading log.

I used to think technology was something to just “integrate.” Now I know that the tools technology puts into our hands are powerful, authentic, and essential–when used at the right times for the right purposes.

I used to think a classroom of compliant kids was a classroom full of kids learning. Now I know that compliance and engagement are two completely different things.

I used to think I had to solve problems by myself. Now I know how important it is to know and recognize the strengths of all of the professionals in a school so you know just the right person to call on when you’re in need.

I used to think looking at data meant figuring out each student’s deficits and trying to fix them, preferably before high stakes testing. Now I know that data is meant to show us the strengths we can build upon and the areas in which we will have the greatest impact when working with each learner.

I used to think parent-teacher conferences were difficult and stressful. Now I realize that they are one of the few opportunities for the two most important influences on a student’s life to sit down together and team up for the child’s benefit. And it’s even better when the child themselves can be a part of the conversation.

I used to think I had to drag home a bag or box or truckload of things to grade every evening. Now I know that there has to be a work/life balance and that the best thing I can do for students is to be present for them in the classroom, not spending hours drawing smiley faces on well-done work at home.

I used to think the most important feedback I could give kids was through grades and rubrics. Now I know that the interactions I have with kids in the classroom on a daily basis and the discussions we have around their work and growth are the most valuable forms of feedback.

I used to think my job was to teach the curriculum. Now I know my job is to teach students toward an understanding of the curriculum.

I used to think my voice needed to be the loudest and strongest one in the room. Now I know that I need to be the one who pushes the students to have louder and stronger voices of their own.

And, most importantly, I used to think I loved working with kids on a daily basis as a classroom teacher. Now I know I do.

I’m excited to join other writers every Tuesday (and daily during the month of March) in 2017 to participate in the Slice of Life writing challenge through Two Writing Teachers. Read all about how you can Write. Share. Give. on their website here.



Teacher, mentor, reader, writer, mother, wife Lover of good books, chocolate chip cookies, and sunny days

20 thoughts on “#SOL17 Day 17: A Shift in Perspective

  1. I am really loving getting to know you as an educator and I am also anxiously waiting to hear what you will be teaching next year. I won’t know what I am doing until probably later in May. So much here is also what I believe. A wonderful collection of your teaching beliefs and philosophy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I used to be strictly early childhood but spent my last 3 classroom years in fourth grade. I’ve coached at every level and am now hoping for fifth. I’ll be happy with any intermediate placement, though. I’m mostly anxious about finding out my new team because everyone is being switched around but my district is small so everyone knows everyone. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always feel the pull back to the classroom and find myself wondering if I would still “have it.” You have learned so much about yourself as a teacher. I bet it will be exciting to apply all of that learning and change in thinking with your own students day in and day out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great structure. You really use it effectively to put your growth and philosophy down. Such a good piece to get your thoughts on paper at this personal time of transition. I hope you will refer back to it often and share it somehow with a wider group of colleagues.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Goodluck with the big changes! I teach fifth and didn’t think I’d like it, but I’m in love! I’m sure you and you’ll new team will be so strong and collaborative! Exciting changes!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So much I love about this post! The repeating structure really emphasizes the journey you have been on as an educator. I love the words: I used to think I was a teacher who loved to teach writing and reading. Now I know I’m a writer and a reader who loves to teach. I had never thought of myself that way, but it’s true. They say great writers write words that allow others to see who they are. 😉. Can’t wait to hear what you will be doing next year

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great format! So many excellent points. I am tweeting this post so more teachers can be inspired by it. Your words “my classroom should be a canvas for students to leave their own marks on” is exactly what I believe. One year (2nd grade) I helped a teacher open her class with Under Construction as their theme… yellow and black construction tape crisscrossed empty bulletin boards, yellow hard hats with kids’ names on them (from Oriental trading) replaced desk name tags. We used small tool boxes to store some supplies. The kids loved it and were part of “constructing” their room …and their learning… all year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As I read this, I notice the change from teacher centered to student centered. What a journey it’s been! I hope you get the news you want, but whatever it is, I can see a great learning place for all in your classroom.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can relate! I took 2 years of after my son was born and going back made me feel like I was starting over. It was a good opportunity to consider old habits – which to abandon & which to go back to.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this format! I used it a lot when I ask teachers to reflect, but hadn’t thought to use it myself. I think I’ll try it about parenting for a later slice!

    I love your list too. So many amazing discoveries and super relatable too. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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