Tag Archives: personal growth

Vol. #83: Continued Professional Evolution

concrete

Just some recent tweets and thoughts about the importance of continued learning and collaboration for educators.

Essential Questions:

  • How do we fight the urge to become complacent?
  • How do we encourage reluctant colleagues?
  • How do we get funding for professional development reinstated?

Vol.#39: Dedication is not Delusion

I’ve taken the last few weeks off from blogging to reflect on teaching, the state of education, and my role in it. I wish I’d reflected more “publicly” in the way of more posts, but I doubt it to have made for good reading. I’ve been feeling all muddled up with the departure of colleagues and things feeling so grim.

My reflection came down to this simple question: Why do I teach?

I’ve decided to stop being so lost in my own thoughts and let this reflection be a public one as the subject of today’s post. It’s time.

That, and the band director at my school has vowed to not read any more of my posts until I have something positive to report…but I digress.

Five years ago, our staff completed Six-Word Memoirs on our experience as teachers. They were complied by the incomparable Paul Cancellieri who pens Scripted Spontaneity.  I couldn’t think of a more succinct yet powerful way to remember and summarize why we teach. Why we stay dedicated in the face of increasing adversity. Therefore, I revisited it recently and share it here in hopes it also resonates with you:

One of them (a colleague’s, not my own) inspired me to write the following, another window into my five-year-ago teacher-self:

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 11.14.10 AM

And then I realized something: one of the reasons I am so hurt is that it’s this dedication on which they are counting. Using. These people in power, whether simply clueless as to the damage they are doing or with insidious intentions, who are undermining our profession at every turn. Defunding it. Devaluing it. The ones forever saying “do more with less.” Who are essentially challenging: “What’ya gonna do…leave? Well, then you weren’t a dedicated teacher to start with, were you?”

The dedication is what they counted on to get away with it.

Let me be clear: They are unequivocally wrong. Yes, they will chase some amazingly talented educators out of the classroom. They already have. However, please don’t let them mistake our kindness for weakness, nor our dedication to teaching as acceptance of their poor treatment.

We must be as dedicated to teaching as a profession as we are to teaching as an act.

My Six-Word Memoir nowadays?

Fighting for students…outside classrooms, too.

What is YOUR Six-Word Memoir?

Vol.#27: Something Old, Something New…

Saturday May 4th, I both celebrated the end of an amazing experience and attempted a new one. On Saturday night, I attended the Kenan Fellows “Catalysts for Change” reception and dinner that both celebrated the end of our 2013 class and welcomed the 2014 Fellows. It was not that long ago that I was just embarking on the amazing experience that those 49 educators are eagerly anticipating. Many asked what to expect. While every Kenan Fellow has an experience that is highly personal, as mentors and placements vary widely, there are certainly themes and common trends that evolve of you talk to Fellows that have completed the process. They have a different, more global perspective for their role in the classroom. They have new knowledge to bring back to their students. They have new confidence to emerge (or continue to evolve) as a teacher leader, and they have an eagerness for the next adventure. Continue reading Vol.#27: Something Old, Something New…

Vol.#17: A Choice Education

“My neighbor’s kid has been in Wake County schools for six years, and his school has changed six times. He has no childhood friends. Why does the county do that?”

I have no answer for this stranger who, upon learning I am a public school teacher for WCPSS, demands it. His tone is curious with only a hint of accusing. He knows I personally did not set any policies, but he’s grappling for a logical reason. Some counter argument which I cannot provide. This county is infamous known for the sometimes contentious board meetings and how it repeatedly rearranges student reassignment. Though the news has explained they are touting choice and address-based models and assuring students will be “grandfathered in”, it does not always seem to coincide with the stories from some parents like this one speaking to me now.

Actually, as a parent I know little about it as well. I am fortunate that the county accommodated my request to have my son at the year-round elementary school that is adjacent to and feeds into the middle school where I teach. There’s even a bus that runs to and from the school to bring him from and deliver him to my school. Therefore, I missed much of the agonizing analysis many parents experience.

Image Credit:http://artschools.com/resources/how-to-choose-an-art-school
Image Credit:
http://artschools.com/resources/how-to-choose-an-art-school

This past week, letters went home to parents about the 2013-14 school year assignment and their choices. I sent them home to my homeroom, as well as received one from my son’s teacher. I decided to go to the Wake County Student Enrollment & Assignment page myself. There’s lots of information on choices and many, many magnet programs. Curious, I entered my own address into the page provided to look up base schools we’re assigned. Continue reading Vol.#17: A Choice Education

Vol.#13: Metamorphosis

met·a·mor·pho·sis

a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism

This past week marked the third and final Professional Development Institute for myself and the other 2013 Kenan Fellows. It will likely be the last time we see each other until the celebratory events planned at the end of the year when the Fellowship is completed. It was wonderful to see everyone, though it was far too brief. As always, I learned so much more from them than it feels I must ever give back. (I’m looking at you Karen and Vance.)

I don’t know if other Fellows have been experiencing some of the same seismic shifts at their schools that Continue reading Vol.#13: Metamorphosis

Vol.#1: Saying Goodbye

This blog has been a long time in the making.

Granted, mostly in my head. Like most educators and moms of young children, I have plenty of important priorities to point to and say, “I’m too busy”. Despite this, ideas like the concept, the title, and images had been chiseling away at the back of my conscientiousness for months, even before creating a WordPress site in which they could be housed.

Hello. My name is Erica Speaks, and I am a perfectionist.

I think you should know that about me right off the bat. In fact, my husband looks at this blog endeavor dubiously. Not because he thinks I’m not a great writer, but that he knows I absolutely agonize over details, especially when I’m writing.

So, it looked like this blog was going to be an idea that I toyed with but never came to fruition. You know, like building a roadster from scratch or backpacking across Europe.

However, I came across the following quote:

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

~ Ivan Turgenev

and decided to jump in with both feet and hit “Publish”.

As with all new beginnings, I am saying, “Goodbye,” to several things.

Like all educators this time of year, I said, “Goodbye,” to a group of students. I try to take what I’ve learned each time and get ready to begin anew with fresh challenges and perspective. My year-round school’s calendar starts in July, and hopefully some of it will be blog-worthy.

Also, I have worked diligently over the past ten years “perfecting” lessons from my state’s Standard Course of Study that I will say, “Goodbye,” to in favor of the Common Core alignment coming this school year. I am very fortunate to have been granted a Kenan Fellowship with which I can start this new process. I am certain some of that will be blog-worthy.

The start of this blog also marks one other, “Goodbye.”  I had become very comfortable with my arrangement of having a colleague use some of my writings as guest posts on his own professional blog. Changes have me saying, “Goodbye,” to that safety net, as well.

So, as I anticipate the drive out of my comfort zone on many fronts, I take a long look in the rear view mirror at where I’ve been. I ponder a moment at how I’ve arrived here. It has not been perfect, and I recognize a difficult new stretch of road lies ahead in my journey.

But I’m ready to begin driving forward.