One Sunflower

crawl space

on October 25, 2009

Going into a crawl space means getting dirty, and is usually required when something needs maintenance.  Sometimes my work as a teacher requires going into my crawl spaces.  It helps when I don’t have to go it alone.  It also helps to have some kind of flashlight.

Our book study is a journey into a crawl space – and is sometimes a study in semantics. 

expectation:  something expected

standard: something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example: criterion

belief: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing  

value: to consider or rate highly

Last Friday morning we stumbled through chapter 3 in Robyn Jackson’s book, Never Work Harder Than Your Students.  The principle that she highlights in this section is “Expect to Get Your Students There.”  First she explores the meaning of standards and expectations.  Then she writes about identifying values and beliefs.  It became a philosophical discussion.  I know that I, for one, do tend to use these terms interchangeably.  I looked them up in my ragged Webster’s and tried to do some of the exercises that the author suggests to help clarify my thinking. 

The first exercise on page 90 was interesting.  She suggests listing what I consider to be the 10 most important attributes of a teacher, crossing out first 3 and then 2 more to narrow the list to my 5 top values.  Next she says to choose the two that I am so passionate about that I would never give them up, and to examine my current teaching practice to see if those values are reflected there.

It was difficult to name my top 10 attributes that I think a teacher should have.  I would like teachers to be: compassionate, intelligent, creative, playful, diligent, contemplative, nurturing, curious, wise, patient

The top two for me are: creative, nurturing. But, it certainly helps that I am contemplative and diligent about the work.

So that’s the value’s part of the equation.  Next Ms. Jackson outlines a task to help me assess my beliefs about my ability to teach, consider what I perceive are my personal strengths and the constraints of my current teaching situation. After working through the task, I think my strengths are that I am able to create a classroom environment and routine that adapts to program requirements as well as meeting the needs of individual children.   I work hard to help children establish independence and build social skills.  The constraints that I think exist are that there is a 1/8 ratio most of the time in the classroom and there are some needy children who could benefit from more adult support. 

I think my core values are reflected in my teaching practice.  I also think that by being creative and nurturing, (as well as contemplative and diligent,) I will be able to meet my needs as well as my student’s.   But it is like these beads of water on the vine, I am able to gently sustain everything I do by making sure I feed my creative spirit, build in reflection time and participate in professional development opportunities with my peers.  I can see how staying true to myself and aligning the work with what I like to do naturally will enable me to have high expectations for both myself and my students and thus help us all meet the standards required.

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