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Letter to Mrs. Penrod

I love everything that the first day of school brings: new school supplies, new bulletin boards, and most importantly, new students! I always find myself full of excitement the night before the first day and I basically wake up like Nemo here on day one.

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My favorite first day/week activity to get to know my students is something I call “Letter to Mrs. Penrod.” I can’t remember where I found the inspiration for this activity, but I am so thankful for it.

“Letter to Mrs. Penrod” is a very simple activity that produces one of the most honest and insightful writing pieces you’ll ever get from the learners in your classroom. If you are looking for a way to get to know your students, both in and outside of the classroom, this is something you must try. If you want to do more than the basic “Tell me 5 of Your Favorite Things” game, this is for you. If you’re wishing you could get your students to really open up about themselves in a low-risk setting, you’ve got to do this.

“Letter to Mrs. Penrod” is a writing prompt in which students are asked to write a letter to me to describe themselves as individuals and learners. The catch? Students must write pretending they are one of their parents/guardians.

What makes this so meaningful and unique is the catch of the activity– students don’t write from their point of view, they write from their parent’s/guardian’s point of view.

Think about what the students consider before writing this piece:

  • What would (parent/guardian) say?
  • How would (parent/guardian) say it?

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This activity gives you, as the teacher, way more than your typical “About Me” writing prompt would. Our students know that their parents/guardians are willing to open up and talk about things with another adult, so they write that way in this activity. Our students know their parents/guardians are going to be honest, so they write that way in this activity. Our students know that their parents/guardians would write in a mature fashion, so they write that way in this activity.

Every year, I am absolutely amazed at the letters I read from students. I can’t believe how truthful the letters are, how thoughtful students are when they write, and how much they are willing to share through this format of writing. The fact that they get to pretend they are someone else allows them to be more comfortable in sharing things about themselves. It makes the whole situation a little less risky-feeling, which in turn leads to students being more open. This letter is also a great way to informally assess the writing skills a student holds.

Skeptics of this activity might ask, “Well, how do you know the kids are being honest. What if they are just telling you what they want you to hear?” Trust me, the students are being honest. I can always tell based on what they are sharing, but I can also tell when I compare their letters to the family questionnaire I ask parents/guardians to fill out. I have never had a student letter that greatly differed from the information parents/guardians shared with me.

I’m going to leave you with a few lines from letters I’ve received in the past, just to give you an idea of the kinds of things you learn from this activity about the learners in your classroom. (I have changed all of the names in these letters to keep the privacy of my past students) Give this activity a shot this year, and/or share it with a colleague. I promise it won’t disappoint!

Remember, these are all written by students who were pretending to be their parents/guardians.

  • “John is a good kid, but he doesn’t always act good. He isn’t always a perfect kid, but he can be.”
  • “George commonly fails to let me know when he has an assignment due, so I am unable to help him. I get frustrated with him and I’m not sure why he does this.”
  • “When Sallie was little, she learned Spanish and I think that kind of messed up her English. She tries to remember the rules with grammar, but she still messed up.”
  • “I recommend asking her if she needs help because she is too shy to ask for it herself.”
  • “Please help my son by pushing him to his potential. He doesn’t always try his best but you can push him.”
  • “My daughter gets distracted a lot. Can you move her to the front to help her focus?”
  • “I don’t mean to be rude, but your class has always been his least favorite, so hopefully you can change that.”
  • “He does not want to try in school because he does not think he’s smart, but he is. He is afraid to mess up.”
  • “Right now, my husband and I are going through a divorce and it seems like it affects her in many ways.”
  • “Many nights she is in charge of taking care of her younger brother, so please understand if she didn’t get her homework done on time.”
  • “I know it is hard to deal with her sometimes.”
  • “Sometimes, he can’t focus because he is thinking about too many other things.”
  • “ADHD can be a problem and makes learning tough, especially when the medication wears off.”
  • “He is very nice and always looking for friends.”

 

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Perspective: The Way We Approach a Freak Out Matters

If you’ve been following my blogging journey, (it really isn’t a long one, I only have a couple of posts at this point) then you would know that it all started with embracing freak outs. I had written about how I was going to stop making excuses for things that put me outside of my comfort zone and start embracing the unknown (or as I like to call them, the freak outs).

What I didn’t know when I wrote that post was that I would really be putting my mantra to the test… A MONTH BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS

As of Monday, I am officially changing schools, districts, and cities (not grade or subject though… I do need SOME sort of consistency in my life). Not only is my school life changing, but my home life is as well. My husband and I are looking for houses closer to his current job and my new job, which means packing up an old classroom, moving into a new one, packing up our home AND moving into a new one.

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Now, I would like to clarify that these are all really good things. I am so excited for the change that will come with a new school, new students, new co-workers, new classroom, etc. Also, I can’t wait to get out of apartment living and move into a house with more space! However, all of this change in ONE MONTH is freak out worthy. 

I have to remind myself that it is the way in which we approach our freak outs that will determine the outcome.

It isn’t about not freaking out… I mean, that would be pretty impossible, right? (Especially in my situation- there is no way I can’t not freak out!) It’s about how we handle the freak outs; it’s about embracing them. It’s all about perspective.

I could…

  • stress and worry about the fact that I have one month to completely pack up my old classroom, move it into my new classroom, set up a new classroom, and prepare new curriculum.
  • panic because we are moving out of our apartment in one month, and as of right now, do not have a place to live after this month.
  • wonder why in the world I am sitting here blogging about all of the things I have to do instead of actually going and doing them. 😂

I could be doing all of those things. To be honest, my initial reactions to all of these freak outs were these things. But then I stopped for a moment to take a new perspective on these situations.

  • Yes, moving classrooms in one month is really cutting it close. Isn’t it awesome though that we (my new students and myself) have a new space to make our own? Isn’t this a great time to re-think classroom design and try new things? My new students deserve me at my best, and I plan to give them just that!
  • Yes, the possibility of not having a home in one month did cause some panic in me, but I know that we’ll figure it out (if not, it’s a good thing my parents have some extra space in their house). I need to recognize how blessed we are to even be looking at houses and take in this house-hunting experience.
  • Yes, realistically, I don’t need to be here blogging about my freak outs, but I am. I am because I enjoy it- it’s a way for me to relieve stress and make sense of everything going on in my head.

I wish that I could say that this spark of perspective hit me on my own, but it didn’t; I needed reminders from some very important people in my life.

My husband reminded me that although I’ll be entering a new city, district, and school, there will still be kids there who need me.

The superintendent of my previous district, who has been a mentor for me through this entire process, basically told me I need to snap out of it. “You might have some crazy things going on, but you also have some crazy things to be excited about!”

My previous principal, who supported me during this journey, constantly reminded me of the value and importance of family. Leaving my current school was not an easy decision, but I know it will be the best for my family.

I am so thankful for the support that I have received throughout all of this change and throughout all of these freak outs.

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What I am most appreciative of is the reminder from others to shift my perspective. Again, freak outs are inevitable; there are bound to be things in life that will require us to change or journey into the unknown. It’s about the way we approach the freak outs that matter.

Here’s to a great year of shifting perspectives and truly embracing the freak outs.

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Channel Your Inner Frizzle

Lightning bolt earrings. Solar system themed dress. Pet lizard. Red hair.

Guess who?

No, I’m not talking about Lady Gaga (although the characteristics above may very well also describe Gaga).

What if I told you she drove a big, yellow, magical school bus?

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You got it. The one and only Ms. Frizzle: the legendary teacher who will always be known for her wacky-themed outfits, unforgettable field trips, and consistently positive attitude (even when one of her students froze his head after taking off his helmet in space!)

The Magic School Bus was an epic children’s show airing in the late 1990’s about a classroom that went on wild field trips on their magic yellow school bus. Ms. Frizzle, the teacher of this class, was dedicated to providing her students with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, all for the sake of learning! The magic school bus took the class to space, to prehistoric times, inside the body of another classmate, along with many other unusual field trip destinations. Ms. Frizzle was known for her unique educational opportunities; her students knew to expect out-of-the-ordinary from her.

One of Ms. Frizzle’s most classic, well-known quotes is…

 “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!”

How awesome is that? Ms. Frizzle had a completely sincere and purposeful mindset towards learning and she had her student-centered educational pedagogy down to a science (pun intended… 😂), and she was just a fictional, animated teacher in the 90’s!

We obviously can’t turn our students into bees so they can learn more about hives and we can’t take our kids through the digestive system of one of their peers to learn about the breakdown of food in our bodies. We would obviously need a magic school bus for that…

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What we can do, though, is mimic the mindset and characteristics of Ms. Frizzle.

We can take our learners outside of the classroom to learn, or bring others inside of our classroom. We can be a little (or a lot) crazy in order to accentuate a lesson. We can dress up in crazy costumes and outfits to get our students curious about that day’s agenda (Dave Burgess does this all the time, as he mentions in his book, Teach Like a Pirate).

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We can design our lessons to be more hands-on, and dare I say… messy! We can display positivity, even when times are tough. We can remind students that, “if you keep an open mind, you never know who might walk in!” (Another famous Frizzle quote). We can encourage the kids to take a closer look at things, to think deeper about their learning.

We can make learning fun.

We all have the opportunities to be our own versions of Ms. Frizzle. It might not mean showing up to the first day of school with a dress that lights up and flashing earrings (or maybe it does to you!), but it might mean taking a chance on something different this coming year.

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Think of ways you can channel your inner Frizzle to leave a legacy just as she did. Imagine what students would say about your class. Think about how high the engagement levels would be. Consider the fun you’d have with students. As Frizze would, and did, say… “Let’s get out there and explore!”

 

*Thank you to Jena Ball for reminding me of Ms. Frizzle’s awesomeness in a Twitter chat the other night and inspiring this post!

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Being a GRAND teacher in 2017

The Oxford dictionary states that the word great (when being used as an adjective) describes something considerably above average, impressive, and/or grand.

So, when I posed the question, “What makes a great teacher in 2017?” to the Twitter world, what I was really asking was “What makes an above average, impressive and/or grand teacher in today’s times?” However, I like this version of the question best…

What makes a GRAND teacher in 2017?

Can you imagine being described as a grand teacher? What a powerful compliment. To me, the word grand has so much more of a significant connotation than good or even great. They don’t call it the “Great Canyon,” do they? (To be honest, I don’t know the history behind the naming of the Grand Canyon, so I could be totally off here, but it works for the point I’m making here… just go with it!)

Being a grand teacher in today’s times is not easy to achieve. Being a grand teacher while still being a grand spouse, mother/father, etc. is difficult. Being a grand teacher on those days where you feel anything but impressive is a struggle.

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Notice how I didn’t use the word impossible though…

When I posed the question to my network on Twitter, not one person answered the question by saying, “it can’t be done,” or “it’s a hopeless cause.” Is it because they are unrealistic people? Actually, I believe it is quite the opposite- they are realistic people. They recognize that to be great requires hard work, sacrifices, and dedication; however, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

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Here are 5 characteristics of grand teachers, the kind of teachers our students desire. What characteristic(s) do you possess already? Which characteristic(s) could use some work? Are there any characteristic(s) you haven’t considered yet? *Big shoutout to my PLN on Twitter for contributing descriptions for each of these characteristics! You all are true rockstars!

  1. A grand teacher cares most about students- first as people, then as learners.
  • A grand teacher values relationships over rules. (@michelelkelly)
  • A grand teacher is powerful, transparent and puts relationships first. (@Latimer1Kristi)
  • A grand teacher knows that no matter what content or skills are being learned in the classroom, relationships with students are the most important. (@MpapaEdu)
  • A grand teacher holds the ability to connect and create healthy relationships with students and peers. (@RustyMayInc)
  • A grand teacher recognizes that it doesn’t matter if it’s 2017, 1917, or 1017; a great teacher sincerely wants her/his students to succeed. (@arhi39)
  • A grand teacher believes that every child can and will succeed. (@ShawnFord51)

2. A grand teacher takes student-centered risks, both in lessons and in pedagogy.

  • A grand teacher asks themselves what they can do differently this year that wasn’t done last year. (@mrdsengclass)
  • A grand teacher needs to be willing try new things in the classroom, whether that is technology or a pedagogical shift. (@mrdsengclass)
  • A grand teacher is one who is willing to give as much control and choice as possible over to his/her students. (@evsmomgen)
  • A grand teacher is able to put kids at the center. (@tinkering2learn)
  • A grand teacher is willing to take risks and knows his/her students will experience growth this way. (@MpapaEdu)
  • A grand teacher asks students more questions rather than providing answers. (@hollysking)
  • A grand teacher helps their students work through challenges and failures, rather than help them achieve a score or grade. (@michelelkelly)
  • A grand teacher opens doors for students, doesn’t close them. (@brianrozinsky)
  • A grand teacher is willing to share their own struggles with students. (@bart_miriam)
  • A grand teacher is flexible as we need to be able to change course as needed in order to meet students needs, connect to their experiences, or try something new.(@thinkdreamdare1)
  • A grand teacher is willing to be innovative (@Terencewhite23)

3. A grand teacher is always learning and growing; he/she embraces the unknown and the freak outs.

  • A grand teacher is willing to take constructive criticism to allow for growth. (@mrdsengclass)
  • A grand teacher realizes that the teaching role does not have to be done on your own, and lets others help! (@elizabethutch)
  • A grand teacher is a connected educator who realizes the importance of learning from others. (@MpapaEdu)
  • A grand teacher creates a culture of growth of students & self. (@SteinbrinkLaura)
  • A grand teacher is excited about learning and students. (@SaraKiffe)

4. A grand teacher, especially in 2017, knows and models the significance of technology to students, parents, and peers.

  • A grand teacher is relevant! (@michelelkelly)
  • A grand teacher knows how to relate to their students in today’s world. (@jbdgab)
  • A grand teacher teaches life skills like digital citizenship so their students know how to be behave online and how to stay safe while using technology. (@jbdgab)
  • A grand teacher is tech savvy but understands how to keep a balance between technology and the physical world. (@polonerd)

5. A grand teacher recognizes that critical thinking is one of the skills we have to hold as a top priority in our classrooms.

  • A grand teacher fosters conversations, rather than monopolizes them. (@brianrozinsky)
  • A grand teacher models critical thinking and provides many opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking. (@thinkdreamdare1)
  • A grand teacher teaches students to be problem solvers and independent. (@ebgtech)
  • A grand teacher realizes that innovation is a skill that must be passed on to his/her students. (@MpapaEdu)

Take some time to really reflect on these 5 characteristics. Be honest with yourself when reflecting. I know there are many things that I need to improve on and change, especially #3, as noted in one of my previous posts.

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Most importantly, remember that being a grand teacher will not be simple or comfortable, but it sure as heck will be worth it.

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Would You Tweet a #Fail?

February of 2017 was when I first created my Twitter account (@itsmrspenrod). I was encouraged by my principal, at the time, to join Twitter; she stated that it was a great place to connect with other educators and that it was basically free professional development. After a couple of months of thinking it over, I decided, “What the heck, why not?”

Joining Twitter was one of the best things to happen to my educational journey thus far.

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I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many inspirational, wise and innovative educators who push me every day to try new things and think differently about teaching and learning. I am so thankful for the 140-character interactions I have daily with people around the world.

Lately, however, I have noticed something about educators and Twitter…

No one seems to tweet about the mistakes they’ve made, the lessons that failed, or the struggles they face.

Please note: I am including myself in this observation, as I can’t really recall tweeting out something like, “Man, that grammar lesson today on gerunds was a no-go w/ Ss- engagement was low :/ #fail” (For the record I could have very well tweeted out this exact tweet because it was 100% true…)

Now, I could ask why, but I won’t because I know the answer. What teacher wants to advertise a failed lesson? What teacher wants to actually admit to the world-wide-web that kids in his/her class weren’t 100% engaged? What person, educator or not, wants to voluntarily talk about mistakes they made at work?

Teachers, this is a tough situation we find ourselves in. We want to showcase our greatest lessons, talents, and skills- which there is nothing wrong with- but what happens when that’s the ONLY thing we showcase? Are we raising the stakes too high for ourselves? Do we push ourselves too hard? Is the image we are portraying online the “photoshopped image” of our actual selves?

I know that we want to share the best of the best because we want to positively represent our schools and students, as we should! I just don’t think we should be so afraid of also being a little transparent.(Please don’t mistake transparency here for complaining or whining… don’t be that teacher on social media!)

What would happen if we started tweeting about lessons that need more student engagement? What if we tweeted questions about how to handle certain behaviors displayed in our classrooms (without naming names of course)? Could we tweet about how we tried that new app and how things didn’t go as planned? What if we admitted on social media that we are actual human beings instead of the super-humans we pressure ourselves to be?

I believe that if we all were a little more transparent, we would find that we aren’t the only ones dealing with failed lessons, struggles in the classroom, and things that could have gone better.

Twitter has been a great place for us to learn from each other’s successes; what if it also became a great place for us to learn from each other’s experiences, even if the experience was a #fail?

 

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How Do You Deal With Splashing and Shouting?

“Claire, stop that.

Stop shouting.

Claire, no splashing.

Stop it right now.

Don’t hang on the railing.

If you do that one more time, we are going home.

That’s enough, Claire.

Knock it off.”

I happened to overhear a mother spewing these commands almost every five seconds at our apartment complex’s pool yesterday. They were directed toward her daughter, who, if I had to guess, was around 4-5 years old. In the span of a half hour, I heard just about every version of any “stop that” statement you could imagine.

I had two thoughts during this experience:

  • Thought #1: I am not a parent, so maybe I’m not allowed to have Thought #2. However, I work with middle school students… do you remember how kind, wonderful, and never sassy or mean middle schoolers can be? (No offense to any of my lovely students… it’s not your fault, it’s the hormones!) It’s safe to say I know a little something about kids.
  • Thought #2: The message that I heard Claire’s mom sending through the scolding was this: The outdoor pool is not a place for splashing, shouting, or any other version of fun. Please swim in silence. 

Did Claire’s mom actually say these things from Thought #2? Of course not.

Did Claire’s mom actually mean to scold in a way that sent off the message from Thought #2? I highly doubt it.

If I could imagine for a moment here, I’m sure Claire and her mother had a long morning; since it was a nice day out, she probably wanted to take Claire outdoors to the pool. At the pool, Claire was excited. How do 4-5 year olds show their excitement at the pool? By screaming and splashing, of course. But, I’m sure after a long morning, Mom was tired. (Even though I’m not a parent, I do know that 4-5 year olds can be tiring!)

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Claire’s excitement + Mom’s tiredness = Mom’s annoyance and Mom’s scolding.

This whole poolside scenario made me think of the classrooms our students enter every day. How do we interact with students when they are “splashing and shouting” in the classroom? Do we scold them, tell them to knock it off, and hope they work in silence? Even on days when we’re tired, do we take a moment to try and recognize where a student’s behavior is coming from before threatening to “go home if they don’t stop?” What do we do when kids are “hanging on the railing?” Are we portraying our classrooms as places to go as a “treat after a long morning?”

Now, I’d like to be clear… I am NOT critiquing Mom’s parenting skills in any way. Let’s face it, we’ve all been “Claire’s mom” before in some variation of this situation, whether it was with our own kids at home or with our students in the classroom.

That doesn’t mean though, that we can just ignore Claire’s perspective here. Claire was excited to be at the pool. To show her excitement, she splashed around. She shouted her enjoyment. She wanted to hang on the railing and kick her feet because it was fun. Isn’t a pool the place for splashing? (Especially one where there was no one else around except me who was at the opposite end.) Isn’t the outdoors a place for shouting?

Sometimes, our students are loud. Sometimes, they do things without thinking. Sometimes, they don’t listen. Sometimes, our students “splash and shout,” don’t they?

Might our students be excited to see their friends? Might some of our students be happy to leave the unknowns of their home for the routine and safety of our classrooms? Might our students look forward to school? Might our students be acting the way they do because that’s how a kid at (insert student age here) acts?

Have we ever considered that our students act the way they do because they are excited, comfortable, or just because they are at “that age?”

Are we encouraging students or are we scolding them, showing them that school is not the place for “splashing and shouting?”

I’d like to share with you a letter that one of my students wrote me that forever changed the way I viewed and reacted to student behavior.

“Your class really changed how I act in a classroom. Before, I never rose my hand and never shared unless picked randomly. Some classes I still do that but I’m actually raising my hand more now. Sometimes (most of the time) I blurt out in your class. It is because I feel welcome in this class. I know it’s annoying sometimes, but I feel like I’m at home.”

Never in a million years would I have thought that the reason this student was blurting out all the time was because he was comfortable in our classroom. Now, is blurting out something I want my students to think is acceptable? No. But isn’t it just amazing to hear a student say they feel as comfortable in class as they do when they’re at home?

The reasoning behind student behavior might be due to situations you were unaware of, feelings you never thought of, or circumstances you never considered. However, we won’t always know every student’s story, and we can’t expect every student to write us a letter like one of my students did. So, what do we do?

We remind ourselves at every “poolside” scenario in our classrooms to consider “Claire’s” perspective, even when we’re tempted to “scold like Mom.”

 

Maybe that student is blurting out because he/she feels comfortable enough to share what’s on his/her mind. Maybe that student came to class crabby that morning because he/she stayed up all night waiting for Dad to come home and he never did. Maybe that student acts out to get some attention because he/she doesn’t get any at home. Maybe that student asks so many questions in your class because he/she only feels comfortable asking you things. Maybe that student gives you a hard time because that is his/her way of showing he/she actually enjoys you. Maybe that student doesn’t ever do his/her homework because he/she is in charge of watching 4 younger siblings every night while Mom works the night shift.

Obviously, we can’t control how students act, but we can control how we react. We don’t want to suppress creativity by scolding the every move of our students. We want them to know that school is a place to express themselves, just like an outdoor pool is a place to splash and shout. We don’t want to constantly say “stop that” to students when they do something wrong. We want them to feel comfortable making mistakes within the walls of our classrooms, knowing they have our support and direction to make right choices.

The next time you have a “Claire” moment in your classroom, why don’t you jump in the pool and splash and shout with them? 🙂

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From Making Excuses to Embracing Freak Outs

“I’ve only been in the classroom for a couple of years. I’m still a ‘new’ teacher. I don’t have enough experience. I’m too young. I’m not ready for that.”

In the past few years, I used a variant of one of the above excuses when considering mentorship opportunities, chances to be a leader, or really for anything that I didn’t feel I was ready for.

I was afraid of stepping up and not doing a “good enough” job. I had a fear of looking like I didn’t know what I was doing. I was sure that others who were older than me would say things like, “She’s too young to be doing ______.”

Now, if I’m going to be completely honest here (which is my intent with this blog), the only person putting this pressure on myself was me. My husband, colleagues, and administration were constantly encouraging me; so, what was I so afraid of? Why did I put this pressure on myself? Why was I discouraging myself?

For a while, I couldn’t quite grasp the answer to these questions. I had the support from ones who were closest to me. I had my administration cheering me on. What was it then? At the beginning of this school year (2016-2017), I made a goal for myself to make it the best school year yet. However, I knew I was going to have to address these questions and really be honest with myself. Only then did I figure out the answer.

I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable.

Quite honestly, who does? Not many people can openly say, “I love feeling uncomfortable and stepping out of my comfort zone!” (If you are one of those people, I do envy you!) When it came to my career, this was something that I was really having a hard time with. Approaching my third year of teaching, I finally felt I had this whole thing down: routines, lessons & units, and work-life balance; why would I want to change what I felt I had worked hard at establishing? I knew though, that if I truly wanted that year to be the best year yet, I couldn’t do everything the same as I did the year prior. This meant… stepping out of my comfort zone.

Here is how I stepped out of my comfort zone in the 2016-2017 school year:

  • I welcomed other teachers into my classroom (thanks to the Pineapple Chart my principal implemented)
  • I worked alongside of our school’s literacy coach to create a unit together, co-teaching lessons with each other
  • I became a cooperating teacher for field study students from UW-Whitewater
  • I created a teacher Twitter and Instagram
  • I completely changed the way I taught reading using Donalyn Miller’s Book Challenge from her books, The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild
  • I accepted an offer to become a team leader in my school next year

Every single one of these items listed were things that FREAKED ME OUT.

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Could I actually have other teachers come in and observe me without feeling like my every move was being judged? Did I have enough experience to actually help college students figure out the art of teaching? Was it realistic to change curriculum mid-year? Wasn’t leading a team of teachers meant for older, more developed educators? All of these questions came up, and every time they did, I reminded myself that making excuses was something I was going to have to let go of if I wanted it to be the best year yet.

So, I let go. I stopped trying to come up with an excuse to get out of an uncomfortable position/role and started embracing the freak outs. Since I’m being honest here, I can’t say that I currently am 100% comfortable with all of those listed items. What I can say is that I’m learning that the more uncomfortable something initially makes me, the more likely I am now to try it. Why? Because looking back at this list and that school year, I see how far each of those things brought me and how much more of an effective educator I am because of them. Also, I ask my students to step out of their comfort zones all the time; how could I ask this of them if I wasn’t doing it myself?! My third year of teaching ended up being THE BEST YEAR YET and I owe it all to being uncomfortable. Who knew I’d be thanking the very thing I was most afraid of?

This entire story brings me to the purpose of my blog.

Blogging for teachers was always something I believed was for the experienced and developed, which was most definitely not me. Who would ever read what I wrote? Why would anyone ever read what I wrote? And again, I found myself trying to make another excuse. So, what did I do?

Welcome to Love Learning. Love Life. My space for honest reflection and funny-to-me-probably-not-funny-to-you GIFs. Find me on Twitter @itsmrspenrod – I’d love to connect with you!

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