Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reflections on Change: Transition is Tough!

Here's me in my classroom before school started, looking bright-eyed and ready for the new challenge!

I haven't blogged much this year. I have been busy plodding along on the continuous curve of learning, having made a huge change this year: going from teaching kindergarten at a school where I taught for 5 years and felt like I knew everyone, to teaching 4th grade at a completely different school.  Learning a new curriculum, getting up to snuff on the traditions and culture of my new school, TEACHING        ( yes, that's my actual real job), and trying to keep up with commitments, such as tutoring kids I've worked with for years, planning a book with a member of my PLN, presenting at 2 conferences and still managing my personal life have been overwhelming at times.  And with that I offer a sincere apology to my family and friends as I have not been as present as I wish to be.

Needless to say, although I often feel like I am moving ahead two steps and falling back three, I do believe that I have grown immensely by stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on this new challenge. I must also say, that I have had some of my most satisfying moments of teaching, interacting with wonderful 4th graders at a critical point in their learning journeys.

 Here are some reflections about what helped me thrive and what I will do differently in the future!

Keep expectations realistic:  I am pretty darn sure that I expected myself to master everything this year: the curriculum, the traditions and culture of my school, the unique challenges of 4th graders, etc. Did I live up to my expectation? simply elevated my blood pressure! Although I am often one to coach others on this topic, I do not follow my own advice. In the future school year, I will have one or two attainable monthly objectives for myself so that I can see progress in key areas, instead of expecting mastery of all.

Don't be afraid to accept opportunities to stretch yourself! In the Fall of 2010, just as I was in the midst of the steepest part of my learning journey, I was off to present at a reading conference in southern California. There I met several of my awesome PLN members and was refueled by connecting with other passionate educators. Around that same time, I was asked by my wonderful friend, Lisa Dabbs to consider presenting with her at the March 2011ASCD conference in SF. Although my first reaction was one of self-doubt, citing that I was "too busy and overwhelmed," I took a few days to think about the opportunity I might be turning down. When else would I be invited to co-present at an international conference? I am so happy that I did! I got to meet even more of my wonderful PLN members as well as experience a boost in confidence and realization that I love connecting and sharing with educators from around the world! Here is a fun interview with Ken Royal, senior editor for Scholastic, that spontaneously happened at the conference.

Savor the moments: Don't get so caught up in the pressures of curriculum, grading, deadlines, that you forget who you are there for: your students. Especially now, at this busy end of the year time, I am going to school each day with a mantra of making the most of each moment by being present. Our relationships with students and how we interact with them make a HUGE difference in their perceptions about themselves as learners.

Make new friends: I must say that though I miss some friends at my old school, I work with a wonderful group of passionate, hard-working educators. I have especially enjoyed having a fellow "new teacher" next door and one downstairs in kindergarten. Somehow the experience of being new to an environment together sets the stage for deep bonds of understanding. I am so fortunate to have such supportive friends.
Finally, a big reminder about what I will do differently: take better care of me! Confession: I have not been as faithful to the goal of eating well and exercising regularly as I should be. Of course I have the endless list of excuses, but I WILL find a better way over the upcoming school year to spend a bit more time on taking care of me. I have had a few health issues creep up this year, and most are probably related to stress! I will reach out to my network of both online and face-to-face friends and get back on the bandwagon. Summer will provide the perfect opportunity to get back on the #TEMT ( Twitter Exercise Motivation Team) train.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how you manage transitions such as these. Please share!