Saturday, January 11, 2014

Put Another Log on the Fire

Post by Colin Wikan: Colin taught for 12 years before transitioning into administration this year. He currently serves as Dean of Students at Bettendorf High School. You can follow him on twitter @colinwikan or his blog

It is that time of year; the time to reignite the fire.  The time to find that passion and spirit that brought you into the classroom and into the lives of so many students.   It is easy at this point of the year to let the short days, cold temperatures, and wintery weather get you into a negative groove.  Now is the time to sit down and ask yourself some reflective questions to rekindle why you chose to enter the wide world of education.  Here are some things to ponder as you begin your new term…

Do you enter your classroom with the same passion every day?

It is imperative to keep that beginning of the school year passion throughout the year.  You need to bring your best on a daily basis.  If your students sense you lack passion about what you are teaching, they too will lack the passion to learn.  Be excited about what you do!  Go home each day knowing you have given everything to ensure student learning.

Is your classroom a “can’t miss” environment?    
It is essential that your classroom is an environment students don’t want to miss; something they look forward to each and every day.  Whether it is because of the relationship with you, others in the class, or the content you are presenting.  We have to create an environment students are excited about; one like Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) creates in his book, “Teach Like a Pirate,” an environment students would buy a ticket to attend.  If I still taught, I would ask myself a question posed by Erin Klein (@KleinErin) every day before I entered my class: would I like to be a student in my own class?

Do you continually look to improve?

To be successful, you need to live and breathe this statement.  Never settle for status quo and continue to better yourself all of the time.  Look for ways to improve yourself, your teaching, and those around you.  If all you do is look to improve, it is hard to believe success will not happen.

When is the last time you tried something new?

It is okay to take risks!  It is not necessarily a bad thing that your students see you fail at something; it makes you look human and strengthens your relationships with students.  An environment where it is okay to take risks regardless of the results is essential to a successful learning environment.  Robert Kennedy summed this up nicely with this quote: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

 Are you connected?

Although many believe social media serves little to no purpose in education, those same people have a misconception of how educators purposefully use these communication tools daily.  If you are not part of Twitter, Google +, Linkedin, etc., I suggest you join ASAP.  The relationships you can form are amazing and you are no longer blocked by the walls where you work.  Learning opportunities are available all the time from people all over the world.   Join a Twitter chat; host a Google hangout, who knows what you may gain from the experience.

Twitter Chats and times  Thank you Jerry Blumengarten! @cybraryman1)

Are you frustrated?

Remember to take time for yourself too.  You cannot give your best if you are not at your best.  Make sure you schedule some “me time.”  Whether that is a walk in the park, a run, a bike ride, or a cocktail with a friend; make sure you find enjoyable moments outside of school so you can make enjoyable moments inside.

I now ask you to take on a new challenge, take a risk, and push yourself to be the best you can be on a daily basis.  If you expect the best from your students, expect the best from yourself!

1 comment:

  1. Nice work Colin. Your reflection should be meaningful to many. I would agree whole heartedly. January is a great time to sit back and ask yourself many of these questions. It is the time of year when we may actually find the "time" to re-evaluate what we are doing and make necessary changes where need be.
    Appreciate the reminders.