Thinking Beyond My Classroom in the New Year

Throughout the break, I’ve been seizing the opportunity to think about things other than my classroom and my students. This winter break is the longest amount of time that I’ve had away from school since the year began, and I’ve been surprised by how much I don’t miss it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy working with my students, but, overall, I don’t think that I’ve felt as fulfilled by teaching as I thought that I would. I feel as though I’m doing a good thing, that I’m pushing back against the things imposed upon me to which I simply cannot blindly subscribe, and that my students are having a very different educational experience than they have in the past and than they may have in the future (though I hope I am wrong about that prediction.) I am by no means an outstanding teacher, yet, but I do feel as though what my students are getting in my classroom is meaningful for them as people, not just as students.

So, I am left with the nagging feeling that I’ve felt for some time now — that teaching alone does not seem to be enough for me. This is very difficult for me to come to terms with, as throughout my education, I have fought against those who told me that I ought to do something “more” than be a teacher. I believed that teaching would be enough. But, now I am thinking, that maybe in its current form, the structure of the role of a teacher is at best frustrating, and at worst, debilitating, to aspirations that teachers have beyond their classrooms. I watch the other teachers at my school pour their hearts into their classrooms, spending many, many hours creating lessons and activities. But, I do think that the need or desire to devote so much time to one classroom comes at the cost of shrinking the opportunities and time that teachers have to think about the broader picture of education and what they might be able to contribute to it. Thus, the relative absence of current teacher voices in educational academia.

So, as I prepare to dive back into teaching in the New Year, it is with the resolve to not only continue to provide my students with interesting and meaningful educational experiences, but to cling tightly and even increase, my grip on the wider world of education.

These are my ideas for doing that, so far.

  1. Write about my teaching and practice not only here, but in places where teachers’ voices ought to be heard.
  2. Read, read, read. I plan to do a better job keeping up with the latest research in scholarly education publications and to read the many, many education books I’ve collected and lacked the time to read this year.
  3. I’ll also be taking on a second blogging project, with one of my professors from graduate school. I’ll be blogging about using children’s trade books in the classroom. (I’ll post a link when the website gets up and running).
  4. Look for ideas and solutions to my classroom challenges not only from my colleagues, but from the wider world of education.
  5. Continue to listen to the persistent, nagging feeling to determine where I ought to go from here.

Fellow teachers, what do you do to maintain your connection to the world of education beyond your classroom?

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2 thoughts on “Thinking Beyond My Classroom in the New Year

  1. I feel for you. It’s tough being a teacher. I have been teaching elementary school for 26 years. It’s difficult to find the passion most days. However, I try to remember why I became a teacher in the first place. I also try to stay current by reading the latest educational resources. Finally, I attended a summer institute with the San Diego Area Writing Project. It was life changing. Perhaps there is some kind of professional development in your area that is similar.

    • That’s a great suggestion — I know that I am planning to look for something to do this summer that isn’t teaching. I’ll have to check out what sort of institutes there are around here. I hope you have many more days of being able to find the passion in your classroom!

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