The importance of reflection and what it means to be a teacher

All too often, I find myself running from one place to another, often feeling like a chicken with its head cut off. There are days where I am moving constantly from the moment I wake until I am finally able to fall back asleep. I am sure there are many more teachers out there that find themselves in the same position every day, as well.

Yet I find that when I get a chance to look back on what has passed, I find that there are many things that I have missed, be it some of the connections I used to make with my students or a better way to get my content through to my students. This is such an important part of who I should be as an educator, but by not taking the time to reflect, I miss the chance to grow.

One week from now, my classroom will be full of students once again. That means I need to be at the top of my game. Anytime I am with students, if I am giving any less than my best, then I am not doing my job. That is the pressure of being an educator, and that is what I knew what I was getting into when I enrolled in the math education program at Millersville University back in 1998.

This push to remember to reflect comes from a summer where I attended two weddings where former students of mine were getting married. These two students were class officers for the class that I co-advised, which also happened to be ther group of students that started high school when I began teaching at A-C. Through planning prom to announcing some names at graduation, I grew quite close to those two students, and as the bride of this couple was looking to become a teacher, I was also able to give advice toward doing so. They are such a fun couple, and I was so pleased to know that they wished for me (as well as many of my colleagues) to celebrate their special day with them.

The second wedding was this past weekend, also for a couple from the same class. I knew that these two former students had also thought highly of me in their time here, and I was able to help them and their families through some difficult times. The bride from that couple gave me a thank you card while she was a junior (I keep all cards, photos, and other keepsakes given to me by my students), and I just happened to reread this card today as I was setting up my classroom. She thanked me for the help she received, but there was one statement that really hit home, where she wrote, "Thank you for being someone I trust. And the only person who has never let me down." How powerful a statement is that? I don't know of any other profession where such an impact can be made on a young person. Again, it was an honor to be able to celebrate their wedding day with them.

Of course, I have many other letters and thank you's from parents and students that I reread or post to remind me why I became a teacher. I need the reminders that the long hours are worth it, especially in today's climate where teachers are being blamed for many of the ills that we face. Well, I say, blame away. I will ignore those statements and continue to fight for what I know is right for my students.

So this year, even though I only have 12 graphing calculators for my class of 32 students, I won't complain about it. I will deal with it. I will press my students to try and find a solution to the problem, as I know there are other tools out there I can use, such as the Desmos, Inc. free graphing calculator. I will continue to work on my flipped classroom by trying new things, work at making more connections to the real world, and reflect on what works and what doesn't. And I will remind myself that my willingness to do things differently and trying to make math interesting is what made me a good teacher in the past, and continuing to incorporate those ideas will help me grow into a great teacher.


becks said...

What a touching post! I know looking back on my life in high school that there are some teachers that definitely have changed my life - and i hope they know that!

As your sister, i am very proud to say that you are my brother and to tell others what an amazing teacher you are (not everyone can teach me math!). Keep up the good work!

your sista

Jimbo Lamb said...

Thanks for the feedback! Remember, you were part of my inspiration for becoming a teacher. I mean, if I could get my sister to get a 100% on a math test, then I knew I was doing something right. Of course, you always had it in you, it just had to be found.