Small talks lead to big changes

I have been luck to meet a number of great people in Education from Superintendants, Assistant Superintendents, District Principals and the head of HR for a number of districts outside of the Edmonton and Area. I’ve also met countless amazing teachers who have shared their wisdom and knowledge. These people have given me insight into what they look for in their teachers and encouraged me to look at the way I learn in a different way. There are 2 people who really stand out and I appreciate the time they have taken to answer questions I have had.

Chris Smeaton challenged me to look my PD not as a way to show that I was an ongoing learner but to look at it from the point of view of how I will take what I’ve learned back with me and how it fits into my class. I could attend 100 PD sessions and never really improve my practice or apply it to my class.  This was one of the best conversations I have had with someone and it was all about 15 minutes after a session at iWest. I have taken this to heart and really started to look at what events I am attending and why I am attending them. I have seen how a shift in myself as well when I am at a session that is valuable to myself, my practice and my classroom. We first met at an EdCamp somewhere along the way and I started following him on twitter. Now I continue to appreciate the wisdom he shares and the encouragement he shares.

If you have never met Greg Miller, you are missing out. I first met Greg at EdCampYEG in 2013. I was getting ready to apply for graduation and he took the time to really help me understand where I was missing the bigger picture. He challenged me to look outside the box I was in and to look where education was headed. I was so nervous about how to present myself as a capable teacher, I forgot that understanding the education world around me was just as important. I went into my second practicum at a school known for PBL and leading the way with the ministerial order that had just been handed down. For the first time, I wasn’t scared to go into a school but rather happy I already was aware of what was expected of me. Most recently he posted about new teacher mentorship.  What stuck with me were these questions about mentors :

Are they engaging students with new and innovative approaches?

Are they a life long learner, open to the views and feedback of others?
Are they a risk taker, willing to move out of their comfort zone?
Are they tech savvy and able to build the protégés capacity to integrate technology?
Are they skilled at differentiating instruction?
Have they flattened the walls of their classroom?
Do they use ongoing formative assessment?
Do their students have choice in how they learn and how they demonstrate their learning?
Is their classroom environment flexible and student centred?

I sit and wonder if I had seen these questions 6 months ago, would I have changed how I taught this year. As a first year teacher, I set high expectations for myself. I also expect myself to achieve big things in my first year. I realized there are little adjustments for myself to make but when I can check off most of these boxes at my own level of expectation, I often wonder how other people see me. The lack of consistent and constructive feedback has been the one of the biggest adjustments I have had going into teaching.


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