Thursday, July 1, 2010

Professional Development, Part II

Although I have definitely moved beyond the "life-is-frantic" moment that hit me right after grades were due, final meetings adjourned, bags packed and Michael and I zoomed off to Colorado, I am still luxuriating a bit in the "I drank the Kool-Aid" sensation from the conference that I attended. Seriously, the day after our final meetings, Michael and I woke up well before dawn and headed East to Colorado. I had a conference to attend, and he decided to visit family in Colorado, so that all worked out well. 16 hours later, I wondered why the hell I had agreed to drive to said conference, since I could have taken a nice, easy flight out. I must be a glutton for punishment! That said, I really love the road trip experience and having a sense of the spaces in between some of my favorite watering holes. Utah was especially beautiful at this time of the year, the late spring greens from rainfall striking against the reddish rocks. Just amazing! One last note on the trip, I do like to drive with Michael and Gus and Milo, our dogs. It's the whole family in the Toyota!
Anyway, the conference, again, was fantastic. If I didn't sometimes 'worry' about my identity, I would put all the information possible up here on this blog. Let's just say that it renewed my passion in teaching and working with adolescents, and I also learned TONS. Being in the role of a student and sucking down all sorts of new information is such an amazing reminder of my own students' experience (hopefully I inspire them on occasion, although I have doubts about that too). I would say that I came away with a few major themes that I hope to integrate into next year, in one way or another:
- "The teachable moment" and how to comment on students' behavior, not on their identity (for instance, I can say, "When you arrive late to class every day, it frustrates me" rather than saying "Why can't you get to class on time????!!!!!!!!" with a mean tone). Not that I'm ever mean to students....
- The idea of "stretching", that we are wired or programmed in certain ways and have certain strengths, but that we can and should grow and develop other strengths. The same applies to our students - be aware of their strengths and their learning styles, but don't cater to them. Make them grow and learn.

So, yeah, some great stuff. I also met really interesting people, and the best part was to trade anecdotes or to just talk about different schools and different school cultures. There are times when I feel so apologetic for working at an independent school, despite being the fortunate product of one, an experience that literally changed my life. I do not believe for a moment that I would be teaching now if it weren't for the fact that I attended an independent (or private) school for my junior and senior years of high school. Although I am not the "best" alumnus out there, the school and the teachers and classmates left a lasting impression on me, and there resides a sliver of hope that I can, in some small way, affect one or more students whom I teach. These are not students that suffer from great socio-economical disadvantage, for the most part, but is life as an adolescent easy for anyone?
There are a myriad of reasons as to why I sometimes feel a passion for teaching, and at times that passion wanes and other times it burns fiercely. I also know that I fall into dry routines on more than one occasion, and I would love to be more inspired next year in the classroom.
In the meantime, I'm getting through summer school. So much for inspiration!

1 comment:

Kim said...

I think it's normal for passions to go through highs and lows. I'm the same way with writing. Sometimes, I'm very inspired, while other times I'm very blah. You're obviously very committed to what you do. The kids are so lucky to have you guiding them.