Saturday, January 31, 2015

Positivity and #GreatTeachers

I joined in on a great Twtitterchat this morning: #Nt2t ("new teachers to Twitter.") I like to get in there when I can; while I'm certainly not "new to Twitter," this chat is all about helping folks who are new to Twitter get acclimated and learn how they can use Twitter for their own personal professional development. The chat is moderated by Julie Szaj and Traci Logue, who are two of the most encouraging educators I have had the privilege to meet on Twitter. (If you are an educator on Twitter, you should be following them!)

One great thing about #Nt2t is that, while the questions are often similar from week to week ("How do you find people to follow?" or "How do you manage participating in a chat without getting overwhelmed?") the moderators do a great job of connecting to a theme, or a current issue in education. Today, for example...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Calm My Soul



<I got this.>



<Really, I got this.>

<I can do this...>



<I am struggling...>


<I don't got this!>


I had this thought progression several times this week. Not sure exactly why. Just felt overwhelmed several times, by different things.

I've spent this afternoon striving at getting caught up with my homework. I also have a couple of batches of papers in need of marking for a couple of classes. And my inbox is filling up, and I can't seem to ever get it emptied--just more things keep pouring in. And I'm still not done with my homework.

My soul is restless.

Maybe you can relate?

I've had music on in the background as I've been working today, and I just put this one on repeat. It's by one of my favorite bands, Paper Route. It captures my anxiety and lets me give it voice somehow and helps me feel better too, all at the same time.

If you're feeling stressed and burdened, maybe the cry of faith in this song is part of what you are in need of too.

"Calm My Soul" by Paper Route

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Problem with Work-Life Balance

I think of myself as a team player, someone others can rely on to pitch in and help out when possible.

Honestly, this is a struggle for me sometimes, because I tend to be a people-pleaser, and I have a hard time saying "no" to things. My challenge is this: if I have the gifts/talents/strengths to help someone who is in need of that set of gifts/talents/strengths, it feels wrong for me not to help them. I feel like I'm failing them, and I I'm failing God somehow too. I believe He is the one who has given me these gifts, after all. And I believe He has called me to use them for the good of the body--to help and support others.

Right now, the struggle for me is striking a balance between my work life, my studies, home and family life, church commitments, and still carving out some time for myself. I love all of these parts of my life, and I don't want to drop the ball on any of them. But that's a real challenge! There are only so many hours in a day, and sometimes, something has to give...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Why I Will Never Be a Great Teacher


It's Christmas break. I'm halfway through my 16th year of teaching.

I thought I would be better at this by now.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I know I'm a good teacher. I accepted that after the first decade or so. (But even that was hard for a Dutch Calvinist, it's in my cultural DNA to not think too highly of myself--total depravity and all that.)

The thing is, I'd love to be a GREAT teacher!

How do you become great? I read a lot. I try new things. I refine things that are working well. I stop doing things that are clearly ineffective. I talk to colleagues and find out what they are doing that engages their students. I reflect on my own teaching practice.

Am I better at this than I used to be?


But am I "great?"


And while I keep working on it, striving to improve, I'm not sure I'll ever be a great teacher.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Top 10 Posts of 2014

The turn of the calendar to a new year is always a time of reflection for me. Thinking back over the past year--the events, the challenges, the joys, the learning--is helpful and beneficial for me as I start to make goals and plans for the next lap around the sun.

Those who regularly read this blog know that I use this space to work out my thinking in writing. It's a space for reflection, for thinking and rethinking. I've learned to blog "for me," but I do usually push the things I write here on social media with the hope that it might be valuable food for thought for others, and to get some interaction about my ideas--both affirmation and push-back.

So it's interesting for me to see the posts that resonated with others from the past year! Here they are, the top 10 posts (by number of viewers) from 2014: