Week 3.4: The Power of Reflection
It is time to celebrate the end of the first three months of this blog, Teaching is Mad Hard. Luckily, the title still applies. But we’re going to celebrate by reflecting, not on the last three months, but on the power of reflection!
I still remember being a teacher aid in high school, spending a class period making copies, organizing files, or whatever else for my favorite high school teacher. I happily blame him now for being the inspiration behind my own career choice – oh, if I had only known! Anyway, one day I went in the teacher’s office to put something away, and he looked up from his computer and said, “You know, everything we do is about perspective.” I had NO IDEA what he was talking about, or why he was talking about it. It was a completely out-of-the-blue statement. He was apparently having that kind of day.
But now I get it.
I get that a teacher can choose to be positive or negative. I get that you never really know what a person means through an email. I get that every action you make depends on how you see yourself, how you see other people, and how you see your job. And finally, I get that hindsight is 20/20.
Everything we do is about perspective!
Through reflection, teachers can develop their perspective. That is why there are so many resources and teacher development classes that talk about videotaping yourself, as we mentioned in last week’s post, and keeping a teacher diary. In fact, some of most valuable advice I have received came from a college teacher who encouraged the use of a journal. Basically, you just write a little bit about teaching every week in your journal. The benefit to keeping a job diary is a bit different than when you kept your first diary at age 12 or so. Because instead of talking about the middle school Valentine’s Day Dance, now you’re thinking about other ways to handle parent situations in the future. Or maybe you’re still talking about the dance, and how nasty it is to see eighth graders kissing. Thank goodness you’re mature now!
The perspective that journal reflection provides is a time-warping, honest kind of reflection. How many times growing up did you tell yourself that you were going to remember what it is like to be in middle school? And how much have you forgotten? Or, thinking relevantly, how many times have you told yourself that you were going to try a new technique in class, and then were too busy to do it? Reflection can lead to useful change in the classroom; and perspective makes you a better teacher whether you are knowingly changing or not.
So, good luck digging through all of your experiences up to now. Remember, everything we do is about perspective. But just know that if you say that to your students, they won’t really understand you until they become teachers.
Share your tips about reflection by commenting below or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why no extra resources this week? Because, your years of experience are the best reflection resources out there!
Next week: Interviewing!