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!


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In this world there are so many things to think about and sometimes stress gets in the way and we end up losing faith in ourselves. But if you will follow the rules of motivation, it will surely be your number one best friend for it will guide you along the way.
I hope to read some more of your tips and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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