The secret to my success is that I bit off more than I could chew and chewed as fast as I could.
“I hear you have a new teaching position,” my friend said to me.
“I do,” I said, smiling. “I’m so excited. But I’m also terrified,” I confided.
This is the truth. I’m humbled by the opportunity, and excited about working with so many smart people who will teach me much. I am eager to begin.
However, I’m also scared to death.
I’ve failed before. I know what it feels like, and I know this is big. There’s a lot to be learned along the way. I know I will stumble. I know there will be parts that go well, but I also know there will be hard parts. I’m certain I will fall along the way, but I’m hoping I can always get back up and learn from the experience.
Knowing the challenge ahead, I notice that I think differently. As someone who has moved into different roles across my career, I recognize the change. There’s so much to be learned. I find myself grabbing every book I can that might help. I highlight, note, and ask new questions. I stay caught up on my blog reading, and search for writers who will help me along my new path.
I talk to a lot of new people. I ask them questions, listen to the ways they work, and search for ways to be effective in my new role. I listen. Not the “I hear what you’re saying” kind of listening, but the kind of listening that sinks deep into your bones. I want to look at this new opportunity from a lot of perspectives. I talk to people who do similar work, and people who are affected by people who do this kind of work.
When I get truly terrified, I take a deep breath and think about the people who will be by my side. We’ll be doing this work together. I know I’ll need to trust and let go. I will really not have any choice. This is also a good thing. This uneasiness, this uncertainty, is just where I need to be right now.
For me, it is when I have been in a place for some time that I try to watch myself. As teachers we tend to stay in positions for extended time periods. It is easy to become complacent, to fall into routines, to quit asking questions, to quit searching. It is in these times that I don’t listen as carefully. I just trudge forward without the careful thought and willingness to be redirected.
Yes, I approach this new experience with respectful trepidation . . . and absolute joy. No matter what happens, I hope this time will remind me to always teach like I’m scared to death.
This week we look at transitions for teens and tweens. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Cathy Mere is a literacy specialist in Hilliard (Ohio) City Schools. She is the author of More Than Guided Reading. A trained literacy coach and former Reading Recovery teacher, Cathy leads professional development workshops and presents at state and national conferences. She blogs at Refine and Reflect.
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Want to get your middle school students’ attention on the first day of school? Read a book about how to ruin it for them:
Gretchen Taylor shares the three little words that help any teacher build a rapport with teens and tweens early in the school year:
Cathy Mere co-hosts the annual 10 for 10 picture book celebration, which is held on August 10. You can read more about it and get involved here:
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Tara Barnett and Kate Mills share strategies for meaningful transitions in their fourth-grade classroom:
Mark Levine helps his seventh-grade students transition to the learning of the day with a “compelling question” posted on the board before each class session:
Gretchen Taylor considers how she handles hard transitions as an adult, and questions how she can make transitions more efficient and valuable for her middle school students:
In this week’s video, Christy Rush-Levine helps her eighth-grade students launch the work period with a reflective question that sets a tone for productivity, and then returns to it throughout the morning during transition times:
New PD2Go: Katie Doherty leads her sixth-grade students as they try the prompt “I am the one who . . .” during writing workshop. This is an excellent activity for building classroom community and helping students transition to middle school:
This video and workshop guide fulfill Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.WHST 6-8.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
That’s all for this week!