Saturday, June 25, 2016

Every teacher struggles, even me.

My 2014-2015 school year was probably my worst. It has taken me a long time to write this. Even seeing it now, I feel like a bit of a failure. Don't get me wrong, kids learned, papers were graded, I had parent conversations, worked with peer teachers. I think that only now that I know I had a good year am I comfortable enough to really write this post.

However, I was trying new things professionally (not in the classroom). Our school had lost its focus after a search for a new principal came up empty. We operated the whole year with no principal. I knew that the curriculum needed revamping.....I have the blog posts to prove it. But, I didn't do it. I usually work hard over the summer to make tweaks, find PD and improve the curriculum. However, two summers in a row, it didn't really happen.

I coasted in the classroom, which is not like me. It is so upsetting, even now, to think that I let it happen. I have always driven myself to succeed - as much as I like gold stars, it is intrinsic motivation that keeps me going. I have thought and thought about it, and I can't pinpoint where it all went wrong. I think it was just lots of little things that I let slide by. Was it the 7 year itch? Was it time to move on?

As confirmation that it was not my best year, enrollment in the upper level classes was down for the 2015-2016 school year. The students that I did have were more difficult to motivate to work independently and to strive for continued growth because I had let them slide the previous year. I did make some changes to the curriculum for this past year to help motivate the students. However, it seemed like it was too little too late.

Thankfully, it was my Spanish 2 students that inspired me to get it back in gear. I had some great students that really love the language. Students that started to find ways to take it further without me. I was also fortunate enough to be able to attend ACTFL last November. Being able to get ideas from sessions and have some great conversations with superstars like Amy Lenord, Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell, Kara Parker, Mira Canion and numerous others helped me find my spark again.

So I have learned a humbling lesson. Every teacher struggles and can lose their way, even me. I wanted to share this because I am betting that I am not the only one who has felt this way. The key is to realize it is happening. Acknowledge the "slump" and find a way out of it. Find inspiration again in your students, your peers and make the turnaround. I did it, and so can you.