Future Educator: Me

I often find myself thinking in fairly large, abstract, perhaps “global” ways. I don’t just think about one component, and instead think of the bigger picture. I don’t often just think about what I’m going to do on a particular day, but the look at how the entire week, or even the whole month, is going to fit together. I find it challenging to come up with a single lesson plan as I’m already looking at the entire unit and how that unit integrates with other subject areas. As a global thinker I also often pause to consider what type of teacher I am becoming, and what things I might bring to a classroom of students.

It is my hope to bring new ideas, and new ways of connecting those ideas together. I hope to integrate different styles of instruction, projects, and assessment into my classroom, creating an environment that may be quite different from what students have experienced in the past. I want to try and broach difficult subject areas and discuss tough topics like the history of First Nations people in Canada, inequality in society, the growing picture of what makes up a family, and what mental and emotional well-being looks like. All of these ideas make up my curriculum.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/idasingapore/6975542093title=ClassroomoftheFuture3.0byTheInfocommDevelopmentAuthorityofSingapore(IDA),onFlickrimgsrc=https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7186/6975542093_b05c72922e_s.jpgwidth=75height=75alt=ClassroomoftheFuture3.0

My curriculum is continuously changing, adapting and growing, and is doing so on a weekly, even daily basis it seems! This is mainly a result of my continued learning about what curriculum actually is. I no longer view curriculum as just a document that outlines what to teach, but as the entire system that I, as a teacher, will create for my students.

This new understanding of curriculum has broadened my perspective even further on the impacts that I can have as a teacher. I have realized that curriculum is not just about school, but about the community beyond the school. It is not about the subjects or outcomes, but about going beyond them and digging a little deeper. I find myself smiling now as I think about curriculum, as I feel like I have the opportunity to really connect to the content that I will teach, and hopefully inspire my students to do so also.

I seldom had opportunities like this as a student. I was always simply assigned a task and that was it; there was no room for deviation. The only exception to this was when I chose to elaborate and add my own creative spin, which usually only led to my further disconnection with my peers for “being a keener.” Teachers did not ask or expect more than what they asked, so students were not ever encouraged to look beyond the words on the page. I had many moments like this in both elementary school, high school, and even college, and I feel that these experiences will certainly shape how I present material, and thus my curriculum, to my students. As part of my curriculum, I would like to encourage students to look deeper, and investigate things that interest them. My hope will be to promote a thirst for knowledge, rather than just satisfying the minimum requirements of a government mandated criteria.

Students using Dell Latitude 2110

Of course, as a new teachers, my plethora of ideas is rather intimidating! Can I really accomplish all of my goals in the first year? The thought terrifies me! Thankfully there are a ton of resources out there, via the internet, Twitter community, my PLN (professional/personal learning network), books, and veteran teachers, available to help new teachers like me.

This week, I read a selection of stories from  The New Teacher Book, and many of them spoke to some of the dillemas I have been trying to resolve in my mind. The main piece of advice I gained from these readings is to take things slowly, and not try to do every new idea at once. Depending on the school that I work in, some of my ideas may be overwhelming even for the other teachers and administrators, and it may take some time to test things out and see what the reaction is from the school, and of course, the parents and community. But, another major piece of advice was to always keep your eye on the goals you have set for your teaching, and not get dragged down by nay-sayers and seemingly overwhelming demands of the school or the education system. As a teacher, I decide what to teach and how to do it, and if there are things that I feel are important for the students to learn, then with a lot of persistence and some support from others, I have the ability to make a difference.

While my understandings of curriculum shift and grow throughout this semester and the rest of my education degree and career I hope that I can always maintain my values as a teacher. Education can make a difference in a child’s life and how they grow in our world, and it will be my role as a teacher to help students make sense of it and use it to their best potential.

What advice would you give to a new teacher with “big ideas”? How can a new teacher bring these new ideas into their classroom without getting a lot of backlash from outside the classroom? What do you feel is the most important element that you bring to the curriculum in your classroom (or your future classroom)?

2 thoughts on “Future Educator: Me

  1. Amy Lawson says:

    Kendra, this is such a fantastic post. Your students will be incredibly fortunate to have a teacher who understands lived curriculum. Recognizing this helps us value the lived experiences that each student brings into our classroom and helps us understand the power and potential that we hold as educators to develop an excitement for the world.

    The best advice is something that you’re already clearly doing: write these ideas down, celebrate them, and return to them. There are an infinite number of things to navigate in your first few years that internship can only give you a taste of, especially if you end up in a grade or school far removed from previous experiences. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the “little deals” that keep you from thinking about what really matters: the relationships you grow with your students, and the love and excitement for learning that you share with them.

    So write it down. Write down WHAT matters and WHY, and go back to this. Build the support network that you need – the people in your life, in your building and in your PLN – that shares those ideals, and that you can trust to build you back up on the days you feel shaken. I discovered early on that you can never accomplish everything that you’re hoping to in a year, but if you stick to the truly important basics (and always start with relationships), the year will evolve into what it’s meant to be. Six years in, and I still find myself thinking about what I’d love to change about my practice next year and what learning I’d like to do. What’s saved my sanity is also taking the time to reflect on what I love and value about what I’ve brought to my classroom, and what I’d like to keep. It’s easy to get into the trap of “everything could be better!” – there is always something good to celebrate!

  2. kwhobbes says:

    As Amy has said, the students will be fortunate to share their learning environment with you. Amy gives some great advice – write things down, share with others as you work through things, continue to build your PLN, celebrate your accomplishments and reflect often on what you have done, what you are doing and where you want to go. Revisit what you believe often – I’d even suggest writing down a few key things – some key affirmations about what you believe about yourself and the teaching/learning process, some goals you believe are important and some key words, phrases or quotes that ground you – and read these each day as a way to remind reaffirm and refocus.

    I would suggest that you not worry about things that are not to be worried about – where you will teach, the school you will be in, the type of teachers you will have as colleagues – instead focus on building your PLN and making connections so that no matter where you are teaching, the school you are in, the colleagues you have or anything else, you will have built strong connections. We work in classrooms with students but no longer are isolated in silos – learning is a partly social activity and we have opportunities on a global scale. Change is a standard part of learning – enjoy the experience of your own learning and the learning of the students!

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