Made ya look!!
Sometimes, a title makes the blog doesn’t? 🙂
Ok, this is a conversation that we’ve had a number of times here at our school. We are a rural school, not much access to conferences or outside PD because of budget issues. We’ve started as a staff to buy into Twitter and other social media that help to feel more connected with those outside our district. When I first started Twitter, I was able to use #5thchat to feel more connected with other fifth grade teachers, as I was a singleton at the time. That chat helped me to grow both as a teacher and in my use of social media. As I’ve grown, our administration has taken notice of the social media craze, having us all get our own Twitter handles, working to be active and show how it can work. All in all, it’s worked to push us forward in our thinking. That part of the conversation continues as more of our staff is connected, sharing information, and seeing the value of social media in education.
However, the conversation has changed just a little bit. Lately, we’ve noticed that we are struggling to keep up, period. Keeping up with technology, keeping up with math, keeping up with literacy, just keeping up with the various topics in education. We continue pushing forward with our PD, working with AIW (authentic intellectual work), and our grade level/department PLC meetings. And yet, we see pictures, videos, snap chats, Instagram posts, and so forth about this Makerspace, cool classroom learning designs, mystery Skypes, and on and on! We talk about how defeating it can be getting on line and seeing all these things.
Just like with our students, it is so easy to get caught up in that “wow, I’m terrible” mentality when you see so much progress being made around you. I know I’m not very good right now. I’m teaching three times the students as I had last year, I’m working with new standards, and I’m finding keeping up with the grading is a nightmare. My hope, as I continue to teach 8th graders, that I get better with my new curriculum/standards. This summer, in between trips to Ames and the fair and the pool, I’m hoping to flesh out more of what I’d like to do with my upcoming students. I hope to “catch up” with some of the technology pieces that have fallen along the side of the road.
So, do I stink as a teacher? Debateable. Am I as bad as I think? Probably not, we are our own worst critic. Do I need to stop looking at social media and comparing the “perfect” classroom to my own? Goodness yes!
March 10, 2016 at 7:14 pm
Darin, I think the doubts you expressed are incredibly common. We just don’t give voice to them this eloquently! The longer I teach, the more I feel “stuff” gets added to my plate and I rarely think about what I can take off. I hope you find some “stuff” to ditch if you choose to add more. There are a LOT of amazing initiatives in education and if we try to do them all, they rarely turn out amazing! Thank you for this reflective and honest slice! If you are “terrible”…I think the state of education is in great shape!
March 10, 2016 at 7:17 pm
I think we all feel this way at times. There is always more to implement, classrooms that appear to run more smoothly and provide more creative engagement. Remember, those are just glimpses into the best days in those other rooms. “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land in the stars.”
March 10, 2016 at 7:21 pm
Yes! You did make me look because I think we are often so hard on ourselves. I love how you search to connect with others on twitter, you’re reflective and ultimately you’re growing and will continue to do so. Your students are lucky!
March 10, 2016 at 7:25 pm
Wow can I relate to this. I upped my tech game last year and attended a few district pd opportunities like “Camp Chromebook” and “Google Bootcamp” and our school “Tech Tuesdays”. I introduced a group of teachers to Twitter and got them to take a challenge. This year I’m not doing any of the Tuesday gatherings and it seems like I can barely exit the building before 7:00 p.m. and still I bring home math tests to correct. I feel like I am barely good enough. Actually, if I look at my kiddos – I know amazing things are happening in the classroom. It’s when I look at all the data I need to collect that makes me feel that I am barely getting by.
March 11, 2016 at 10:10 am
Yup, totally know where you are coming from. I like that idea of “Google Bootcamp”! Would you mind sharing what that is? djohnston (at) nfv . k12 . ia . us is my email address! 🙂
March 11, 2016 at 1:12 pm
Darin, sure – one of our district’s Google certified educators does a day long training of calendar, gmail, sheets, apps and extensions, forms, etc. It’s pretty intense. People usually take it a couple of times. Do you have access to any Google certified educators? You could do the same thing in your district.
March 10, 2016 at 7:37 pm
I can so relate! I think there is also an element of the time of year as well. Teachers are snarky with each other, we’re snarky to ourselves, students are tired and burned out. Be kind to yourself and the people around you. Any progress is…well…progress.
March 10, 2016 at 8:15 pm
Progress is progress. I like that! 🙂 Thank you for your perspective!
March 10, 2016 at 7:38 pm
I think you have answered your own questions. Social media serves a function and bridges gaps for those who don’t have unlimited resources, but one can only absorb/participate in so much. Sounds like you will have one busy summer.
March 10, 2016 at 8:14 pm
And that’s where I’m at, that point of “only so much”. Just trying to keep my head above water and keep my self-esteem there to! 🙂
March 10, 2016 at 7:39 pm
You are not terrible and that’s not even debatable. You are a “first” year teacher–well, first year in 8th grade– And you can’t compare yourself to eveyone on Twitter, because, well, it’s EVERYONE on Twitter. All these teachers share one idea, but we read those ideas and think we should do them all. Not possible. Choose the idea that makes the most sense to you. One thing. Then, maybe, another one later.
March 10, 2016 at 8:11 pm
🙂 I know, but somedays, it’s easy to watch idea after bulletin board after picture go by and get a pretty good inferiority complex going on! One foot after another, one day at a time. 🙂
March 10, 2016 at 7:50 pm
I connect with your post. With so many great ideas floating around, it is a challenge to focus on doing one thing well.
March 10, 2016 at 8:06 pm
I certainly is! And somedays, I just wish that I could push all this social media back into the bottle! 🙂
March 10, 2016 at 8:06 pm
Darin, you have highlighted the two-sided coin of social media for educators. We can learn so much, but we can also become overwhelmed by the “so much.” A way that I have made the wealth of knowledge manageable is to think of myself as a museum curator. The stacks and shelves in the basement of the museum are lined with items that are not on display. The curator is the one who hones the collection to create a display that patrons can reasonably interact with and learn from, in a concentrated amount of time. As teachers, we have limited time, for ourselves, and with our students. We can’t do everything we read about on Twitter, and no one else can either. We need to be curators and select the items that would make the best “exhibit” for a given topic/theme/purpose. Choose the gems that work for you and your students, and leave the rest in the basement for another day, or maybe to collect dust forever. Your careful curating will relieve you of the feeling that you should be doing more, and will keep you and your students focused, rather than scattered and exhausted trying to keep up with all the possibilities.
March 11, 2016 at 10:09 am
Oh I like that curation idea!! My problem is, I’d be the crazy museum guy with crap scatter everywhere! 🙂 Seriously, I’ve got my Chrome set us with about 30 different categories so when I do find something awesome, it gets bookmarked right into a folder. True, I’m sure many of folders are dusty from disuse, but yet, if I go poking a long from a treasure, I know something is there to be found. Thank for the great perspective on this! 🙂
March 10, 2016 at 10:19 pm
I think you have the right attitude. I always tell the teachers I work with…start with what is going well and then choose 1 thing that you think you can make better right now. Looking at the whole list of what we want to improve can be daunting (and as a teacher, that list always seems to be long). But focusing on one piece at a time makes it doable.