Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the Beginning

A few weeks ago all of the new teachers in my district gathered together for NTA (New Teacher Academy). It's actually a pretty sweet deal. They don't train us at the beginning of the year and then just throw us to the Instead, they gather us together every 4-6 weeks or so and have a new topic of interest. We also explore more of the district technology and have opportunities to discuss what is going well or what is going poorly for us. I admit that I'm rarely excited about spending three hours after work in training, but it always turns out to be pretty useful and fun.

The last time we met, the topic at hand was 21st century learning. Now, I don't know all the verbiage that goes along with this plan, but the point is pretty amazing. The point is that we are teaching students how to do jobs that don't exist yet and how to use technology and tools that haven't been invented yet. Challenging? I think so. So how do we do this? Instead of teaching them how to be a lawyer, or a doctor, or a plumber, we're supposed to teach them how to use creative problem-solving skills, how to collaborate successfully and effectively, and how to communicate effectively. There are a lot of other skills involved, but these are some our district is focusing on, and they're some of my favorites as well.

Ok, the next part requires a little background. I have known that I wanted to be a teacher for somewhere around a decade. Yes, there was that brief time when I seriously considered pastry school, but being a teacher was always in my mind. Now that I have achieved my goal and found a district I love, I find that in reflecting on my teaching I don't always like the teacher I have become. Now, that may sound drastic, and I know that the first year is the hardest, blah, blah, blah. But I guess what I should say is that I never thought I would be a worksheet teacher. Apparently, I am. Or at the very least I have allowed myself to rely solely on worksheets for furthering our readings in English I. Bummer. For me and for the kids. They're so bored they're participating just to keep themselves awake.

Now, here I am, all frustrated with myself for not keeping my kids on their toes with awesome instruction, in-depth assignments, and great application-style projects, and I'm sitting in a training about teaching and learning 21st century skills. I start thinking, "I can do this. I was made to do this." As a young teacher, all of the technology is not really new to me. KSU did a great job preparing me to teach, I just kind of fell flat in my first quarter of teaching.

I approached our curriculum, instruction, and assessment specialist, hereby referred to as Dr. B., and told her I wanted to do this. Her first reaction was to offer me some resources and example lesson plans. Then, the next day, she asked, via e-mail, if she couldn't help me plan my next unit - Romeo & Juliet. She's a former English teacher, so this is an amazing opportunity that's been offered to me.

We met once already, and I feel like this unit is one I can make really awesome. Now that I'm this far into the school year, I have enough of a routine that I can plan more than one day in advance. I know not to be too hard on myself about that first quarter, but it was so depressing that I'm using it as motivation to move on and to do better.

We'll see.