This school year marks the fifth anniversary of my move from private school director to public school teacher.
After five years you'd think I would have a stockpile of lessons I've perfected. You'd think I would be well into an established routine, drifting easily from one year to the next.
I know plenty of teachers that teach the same thing each year. They have files for each unit, plans ready to go, and waltz into each new year unfrazzled and organized. Sure, they modify to meet the needs of their new students, but for the most part the big stuff stays the same.
I am not that teacher. Sometimes this makes me feel I chose the wrong profession. Each year I am unsettled with the results of the previous year, and spend my summer searching for new ways to teach the skills my kids need to learn. If anything, I'm getting better at scrutinizing the worth of a lesson. But still, I worry that my constant hunt and experimentation does more harm than good.
Last year I uprooted my writing. The things I learned at Summer Institute with the North Star of Texas Writing Project confirmed my beliefs and I knew it was the right thing to do. I also attempted a new spelling and vocabulary program, because the standard 20 word study and weekly test just doesn't mesh with my beliefs. I learned a lot about what not to do, feel that I was more successful than I had been in previous years, but still felt I had a long way to go.
This year, spelling gets another facelift, writing has been modified to better meet the needs of the students, and just to keep things interesting, I decided to add math to the mix of modifications. I wanted to switch to a workshop based style of teaching math before and wasn't able to get it up and running. So now it's up and sort of shuffling along more than running. But it's progress.
At least, I hope it's progress. With so many new things juggled above my head, I have to wonder why I can't just stick with what I've done in the past. It would certainly be easier.
But I have to believe, as I keep tossing more plates up to join the mix, that although I haven't perfected my lesson plans, I am constantly growing. I've always believed if you're not growing, you're dying. So maybe that means I am on the right track afterall.