Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Teach Like Yourself, Part 5

I can't believe it's the last week of our summer book study! Although this book is short, I love how it is set up to make the reader stop to reflect then take action.
Chapter 7 was all about teaching bravely. Goldberg references one of my favorite authors, BrenĂ© Brown. Her work is all about being vulnerable and knowing yourself. As teachers, we need to be courageous and make those connections with our students and colleagues. "True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." (Brown, 2017)
If we don't teach like ourselves, we often feel like imposters and our students know it! When our instructional decisions don't match our students, they can feel the disconnect. With the influence of social media, it is too easy to fall prey to "I'm not good enough." Although I am in awe of some of these teachers & their gorgeous classrooms on Instagram, I have to keep reminding myself to stay true to myself. I don't have to be like anyone else! Listen HERE or click the image below to We Teach So Hard's episode on Lies We Tell Ourselves: You're an Imposter!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Teach Like Yourself, Part 4

What emotions come to mind when you hear "Teacher PD"? Joy is probably not one of them. We've all sat in a teacher professional development where the presenter is droning on and on. There are always certain required District PDs each year: blood-borne pathogens, chemical safety, child abuse, suicide prevention, epi-pen training. . . the list goes on. I understand the required trainings but just as research has shown that children learn best when they have choice and interest in the topic, so do teachers!
Chapter 5 of of Teach Like Yourself focuses on how to drive your own professional growth. What a concept! My first few years of teaching were so HARD, yet so exciting. I was brand new, just graduated with my BA, and given an emergency teaching credential. (This means my school district was desperate for teachers so they gave an emergency credential to anyone who had their bachelor's degree, with the agreement that we would take night classes to get our credential.) Never having taken an education class(!), I had NO IDEA what I was doing. Thank goodness for my very patient grade level partner & veteran teacher extraordinaire, Elizabeth. She took me under her wing and shared professional journals with me, took me to conferences and workshops. I was thirsty to learn; I couldn't get enough PD! Forward to 30+ years and now I groan when I hear about our weekly PDs. What changed? 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Teach Like Yourself, Part 3

Having balanced and healthy relationships are key to teaching like yourself. According to Abraham Maslow's hierarchy, belonging and connection is a basic human need. 
Even in our school environments, we need to feel that we belong to the larger school community. It's not enough to have solid lesson plans and high test scores. 
Several years ago I facilitated a book study on The Well-Balanced Teacher: How to Work Smarter and Stay Sane Inside the Classroom and Out.  Chapter 3 was also all about belonging and creating relationships. You can read more specifics about relationship building HERE. To connect with teaching colleagues, as well as with students and families, focus on being trustworthy and showing them you care. If any of you are Hamilton fans, you'll remember the advice Aaron Burr gave Hamilton, "Talk less, smile more."  (Okay, how many of you did not read that but sang it?) Research has shown that to make connections, learn to really listen: talk less, listen more.  Listen with the intent to understand, NOT to prove your point.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Teach Like Yourself, Part 2

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Click HERE or on the image (book cover) below to order your own copy to join in this book study!
Chapters 2 & 3 are packed full of information! As teachers, we always hear about backward planning. Unless we have a focus, we cannot truly be effective teachers. Goldberg states, "...we must first get super clear on the why of our work, on our core beliefs, before we create plans for what and how we will teach." (p. 24) Simon Sinek's (2009) research  says the most effective leaders start with the WHY before moving into HOW and WHAT.
We've all probably had people try to force us to do something. This is called irritation and may be successful in the short term, but it is does not have lasting effects. (Think getting your kids to make their bed or pick up dirty laundry off the bathroom floor. Unless they understand the reason for these habits and have buy-in, it is only temporary) In order to get our students moving in productive ways, we need to know them well. We want to teach our kids metacognition: what do they value, believe, and think? When we know what our students believe and desire, then we understand the ways we need to teach and the choices we offer to reach our students.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Teach Like Yourself, Part 1

Welcome to our summer book study, Teach Like Yourself: How Authentic Teaching Transforms Our Students and Ourselves by Gravity Goldberg. I don't know about you, but I am fascinated, inspired, yet overwhelmed and discouraged by teachers on Instagram and Pinterest. You'd think I'd securely know myself, beginning my 34th year of teaching! This book is SUCH a great reminder to trust yourself, teach like yourself and the impact it will have on not only your teaching, but your students' learning!
We will "meet" every Wednesday in July. You can comment below on the blog or on my Facebook page. 
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Click HERE or on the image (book cover) below to order your own copy to join in this book study!
I was struck by the first page of the preface:
According to Education International (2017), 150,000 new teachers are trained each year, yet half of them quit with their first five years of teaching!  What?! Goldberg hypothesizes that "teachers nationwide are experiencing a profound loss of trust in themselves." There are a variety of reasons besides the effects of social media, such as stringent district policies or lack of engaging and appropriate materials or overemphasis on testing and accountability. A trusted friend and mentor of mine told me over 30 years ago to follow your gut instinct about what is best for kids. I still need to be reminded of this!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Are You an Untamed Teacher?

Summer. . . the few weeks in the year that teachers have the time to relax and catch up on reading! I'm super excited about the first book in our summer book series for teachers: Untamed by Glennon Doyle! 
Now I know we teach our kids to not judge a book by its cover, but LOOK at this cover!! It is GORGEOUS!  And the content is just as fabulous as the cover! What a thought-provoking and inspirational book to begin summer!
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Untamed is part memoir and part wake-up call. "We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees (teachers), and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed." Wow. Can you relate? I know from the influence of social media (there was no such thing when I first started teaching in 1987) and fast forward to this year of distance learning, I often felt inadequate and overwhelmed!

Along with my We Teach So Hard podcast buddies, we discuss the book and Tracy of Wild Child's Mossy Oak Musings came up with these scrumptious recipes to go with each of Doyle's keys. This Watermelon Feta Salad is THE BEST to feel it all!! It has become a weekly staple for my family!

Friday, June 19, 2020

What Non-Black Teachers Need to Know

2020 will definitely be remembered as a turning point.  Not only marked by the COVID19 pandemic and quarantine, but by world-wide protests and marches in outrage to the treatment and murders of Black people. I've been relatively quiet on social media this past month, trying to process everything.  I can't stop thinking about Black Lives Matter; my heart hurts and I'm frustrated as a teacher, with wanting to "do and say the right thing". I've been reading books and articles like crazy, watching videos, following Black thought leaders on social media, and listening to podcasts to inform myself.
As a fourth generation  (yonsei) Japanese American, I often don't know where I fit in or how certain issues reflect my experience: I am not Black, I am not white. I try to discuss issues that come up in the news through reading picture books to my students and having discussions that are safe and child-appropriate. I have books in the classroom with diverse representation. We talk all the time about social justice and standing up for what is right. But I know there's more I should and can be doing, especially teaching in a school with mostly Non-Black students and Non-Black teaching colleagues.

Annie Sheehan wrote an opinion piece, stating, "White teachers make up an estimated 80% of the teaching force in the U.S. White students make up less than half of the population of elementary students in the country, according to 2018 Census data. This means many students will go through the early years of their education without encountering a teacher who mirrors their own racial identity and background. You can read her complete article HERE.