As the end of the 3rd week of the 2014-2015 school year approaches, I've found myself reflecting on this year and years past. I've always enjoyed each year and all of my students, in good times and bad. Of course, I've complained and wondered, "Why in the world did so-and-so do this?", or "How in the heck did that go wrong?" and even thought, "What am I doing wrong?" (This last one probably most often)
My first and second year were stressful. Most new teachers first years are. They are full of new learning, experimenting, and figuring things out. Of course, these things stressed me out... but this year, I figured out that during these years I was mostly stressed not because of kids behaviors, or because of parents, or all of the work that teaching is... I was stressed because of what I THOUGHT my classroom HAD to be like.
I worried about every time someone walked into my classroom and if they saw what THEY expected. If they would say that I was a bad teacher because of what they saw. I thought that I had to have a clip chart, and I had to have kids sitting silently doing a reader's response at there desks, and there must not be any talking or moving during writing. After all, it was what I saw when I walked into most other classrooms of teachers who "had control". This thinking coming from me is pretty surprising because I was the one to never follow "the plan". I always take risks and try new things.... but I was still always worried about what other people thought of my classroom and stressing about making it what they want it to be.
Then this year came along. I decided I was dropping the clip chart, and ya know, I really want my Students to build a LOVE of reading and become book worms; not reader's response robots. I want my students to talk and collaborate.. be messy and creative.. to share ideas and get ideas from others. I want them to take risks and not be afraid of failing in front of a room of peers. I don't mind students sitting on my back counter to do their work or under the couch. I don't expect them to be quiet, or even neat if that works for them. I DO expect them to be kind, compassionate, hard workers who give everything they do their all. I expect them to make their own choices (with guidance-of course) and know that they are in charge of themselves. The learning is fun and not a worksheet filled hole. This is my classroom, this is our classroom, this is where we learn. And I have to tell you; this year has been so much LESS stressful! Why? Because instead of worrying about what everyone expects of my classroom, I thought about MY expectations and realized that I'm happy with my classroom and how it runs. And if at any point I am not happy with it, then I will change it...but I won't change my room for anyone other than myself and my students. Because what works for us is what is best.
I also attribute this stress-less attitude to my amazing PLN all over the world. I have to thank you for helping me believe in myself and who I am as an educator because I was starting to doubt who I really was... (@tritonkory @sjbates @btcostello05, @mrkempz, @Theweirdteacher, @candylandcaper, @johnwick, @wyowayne68, @RusulAlrubail just to name a very small few)