Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What's In Your Desk Drawer? Day 12

The December 2013 issue of Christian Educators Journal.

I have several issues of Christian Educators Journal in my desk drawer. (It's a pretty good journal for Christian teachers...if you're interested, you can read earlier issues here.)

I kept this particular issue, because it has an article by yours truly included. Check it out...

Yep, written by me!

The theme of this issue was assessment practices. This is something I've thought quite a lot about, actually...going back to my M.Ed. thesis, which was an action research project about standards-based assessment in my middle school science class. If you're interested, you can actually read the whole article here. Or, for that matter, if you'd like to read my thesis, you can read that here. (Fair warning: unless you are really excited about assessment practices or about middle school science, you'll probably find it a snoozefest. But, maybe you need some before-bed reading material...)

This particular article was a fun one for me to write. In it, I basically tell a story: the story of how my grading practices have evolved over my teaching career.

And really, that's what I'm thinking about today. Teachers, we need to share our stories!

We need to talk about the amazing things we are doing in our classrooms! This isn't about bragging; it's about inspiring other people to take risks, and try new things, and learn something about teaching and learning, and let us celebrate together the things that we are doing that are working well.

We need to talk about the flops and false starts. These stories can be harder to share, because no one likes to admit that they failed. But I think these are the kinds of stories that can be so encouraging--the ones that help me know that I'm not alone in my flops and false starts. Yes, it takes a level of self-confidence to admit that we fail, but we can learn so much from hearing "what-not-to-do" tales about our classroom flubs.

We need to talk about our classroom climate, and our "moves." Sharing a story about the way you conduct your classroom practice involves some vulnerability, for sure. But sharing these stories can also be a great part of your own reflective process: what is working well, and why? What isn't working so well, and why?

Maybe we don't all need to share in the same way. Maybe publishing articles isn't your thing. (But have you ever tried submitting one?) Maybe blogging isn't your thing. (But you're reading this one...so maybe someone would read yours too?) Maybe talking with the teacher across the hall isn't your thing. (So, develop your PLN on Twitter instead then? Or get over yourself and have a real conversation about real stuff that really matters with the colleagues in your building!)

Here's the thing: I think that sharing stories is the stuff of great teaching. We are all on a journey as teachers; none of us has "arrived." We all can learn from someone else, and we can all get better. At the same time, we all can share something with someone else, and we all can help someone else get better.

Maybe it's time to stop just being congenial with your co-workers, and start really being collegial.

Maybe telling your story is a great way to begin.


(This post is part of a series about the weird stuff teachers have in their desk drawers. You can read more about this project here, and I hope you'll share the stories of the weird stuff you have in your desk too!)

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