As educator we often state and often attempt to practice that we are life long learners. However for many of us this may mean that we attempt to further our knowledge and understanding in specific curriculum areas and pedagogy. When we attend our professional developments and conventions we diligently look through the options and pick out sessions that appeal to us or are relevant to our current situations academically speaking. In response to the post #WeAct I began to reflect and set out to determine how I act and what I do to improve myself and my classroom.
The thought that kept reoccurring in my mind was that, “Shawn you are teaching elementary”, let me explain. I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Degree in Education focusing on secondary education, majoring in Biological Sciences and minor in Physical Education. These are areas in which I taught for nine years. Two years ago, I made the informed decision to transition to Elementary education.
I knew I had the skill set to create relationships, to manage behaviors and to ensure that my other professional obligations were met (paper work), but I had no experience with the elementary curriculum, nor any experience aside from a few practical observation, working with younger children. Was I prepared, not in the least.The change required me to quickly access my the assistance of my peers. To gather text books, access the internet, burrow resources and to create many new unit and lesson plans. Personally, I became more observant of the practices of other teachers and made excessive inquiries into strategies and ideas as to what they were doing and how they planned for their students.
Needless to say I have made many changes in my methods of teaching and my focus during professional development. Through my growth I have noticed a changed in my students. I have been inundated with the concept of literacy and the importance of it and although in the beginning I was simply adding concepts where I believed they would fit into my daily classes I don’ think I was effective as I could have been. However, recently I began my year-end unit of poetry and came to the conclusion that I the work that I have done, the consistent focus and application of literacy has made a positive change for my students.
The following are two pieces of work from the same student the first written during the conclusion of last years poetry unit and the second written at the onset of our unit.
Reading the poem I was excited and thrilled, initially for the student and then for myself. I realized that this was a little selfish, but was still very elated that I had in one way or another made an improvement. I can’t fully detail the fulfillment that I felt when I read the poem. Needless to say, I immediately went and showed the poem to my colleagues that also work with the child.
I am sure that there will be many more moments as my years in education progress that I will have similar experiences and look forward to them. However, at present I will bask in this achievement and oddly look forward to the summer to plan and create new ideas for the next school year, even though this one hasn’t ended yet. I believe that my willingness to admit that I need to learn more combined with my passion to apply what I learn and observe is a manner in which I ACT that benefits my students. Therefore, I would have to say I ACT like a life long learner, which is being absorbed by my students.