It’s been awhile…

Let’s call the title here an understatement. A year and a half later – no update. Clearly, it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking. It doesn’t mean I’m not planning. But it does mean that I’m getting caught in the moment of teaching, of planning, and I’m forgetting to reflect in a larger way. A colleague made a comment to me this week about the way I think – that I take awhile to process how I understand an idea while he spends less time on that part and more in the product creation itself. It was a lovely observation, not the least bit unkind or critical. Just an observation. And as always, I found myself surprised by just how precise his observation was. I’m always a little shocked when people “get” me, if that makes sense. It’s not that I think I’m invisible, but I assume that people aren’t trying to understand me. That while I care a great deal about them as teachers and understanding how they do what they do so well, that they are not in turn doing the same about me. I start with the assumption that everyone else is better at this than me and therefore I have a ton to learn. I assume too that they are not also trying to improve and learn but that they have it all figured out. While I consciously know that we never stop learning and trying, I also seem to think in my behavior that there will be some end point here where I have learned all I need to know and am now set in my ways as a teacher, the best I can be, perfect, and immutable because I don’t need to be. When I type that, I know how ridiculous it is. I don’t really believe that, but I do behave that way in regard to others. I assume they have all of the answers and have figured “it” all out. In reality, those teachers I admire and spend so much time watching, learning from, and listening to are still figuring it all out. They are doing what I’m doing – trying to learn from others but also trying to learn from themselves.

This is the part I think I’m missing. I am still going outside to learn. Each year, when I plan the next unit or next activity, I’m often re-inventing the wheel. I’m making whole new assignments or activities, new directions, but when I actually go back and look at what I did last year, I see that it tends to be rather similar. Some of my ideas are new. Many of them don’t work or don’t feel quite right. But many that feel comfortable and well-suited to the class and the students are ones I did before. I am redoing over and over what I’ve already done. I need to go back to the work I’ve done and work to reflect on it and revise it versus remake it from scratch. I can learn a ton from other people, and based on my personality, that will never stop. However, I also need to learn from myself. It comes from a place of confidence or lack there of, that I don’t seem to believe I know what I’m doing or that I’m something worth learning from, but I know, when I write that, that that’s not true.

I put everything I have and do on Google Docs. It’s all organized. It’s all there waiting for me to look at it again and reflect, revise, and reflect again. I just have to not be afraid to look back it and see what’s really there, the good that’s really already there. It may actually serve me well in terms not only of time management but also of building some confidence in this work I’ve done for eight years now. I have to have done something right by now. I know that. I do. I just have to look at it.

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