Going into year, we sometime have a narrow view of our work. Let’s look at the big picture and see how the context of our work fit with our big picture.

What Drive Me To Do My Work?

I know we have a couple weeks of summer break to go. This reminds me of my earlier years of teaching where I’ve been using the last couple weeks of break to tweak my chemistry units and lessons, review my classroom routines and norms, make sure our space is ready, and all the other ritual things that we as teachers needs to do the calm our anxiousness and feel that we are ready. Undeniably important. The hustle and bustle in education is important from the interactions we have with our learners, staff, and families, to feedback we need to give, and to the opportunities we need to find for our learners to make sure their learning adventure is unforgettable. Undeniably these are important tasks but why? We need to ask ourselves, “What drive me to make all of these decision every single day?” What we sometimes forget as we go into the school year is our purpose . . . our big picture . . . the reason why we’ve taken up this exciting adventure to become educators. Let’s remind ourselves of that as that purpose become our thesis statement for the whole year.

Using Data to Develop The Big Picture

Every year my purpose in education has shifted from surviving my first couple year to getting my content down to now engaging my students in there learning process. These shifts came about because I had to give myself time and sometime force myself to find that safe collaborative space or quiet place to look at student work, to relive a conversation with a parent, to remind myself of an interaction I had with a student and ask myself whether or not I did everything in my power to serve our constituents well. Using that data, patterns emerge which informs me and reminds me of my purpose and the work I needed to do to grow.

Be brave and try out different lens. This will push us to try out different strategies.

Re-framing the Big Picture

Developing and re-framing your purpose does take time and sometimes you find out that your purpose statement is not the statement that you should be focusing on and you might need a different focal point. It’s OK to change the big picture. As a boxing coach, when I corner someone during sparring, I always ask them, what is your goal for this round and how are your going to get there? When they go into the round, they find out their strategy isn’t working and by the end of round after feeling beat up, we have to re-strategize and re-frame our goal based on the data and feedback we received. In boxing, this re-framing process happens every round. It needs to happen frequently or else the same mistake will happen again. In education, it could happen structurally every week, sparsely through the school year, or on your own term. If you want to reach your goal, this process needs to happen frequently so that you can go into the work with a new pair lens and perspectives, try out a different strategy out, and determine whether or not that strategy works.

You Shouldn’t Be Alone In Your Work

A coach, mentor, a teacher buddy will help you look for the invisible dynamics in our classroom and re-frame your goals.

Teaching shouldn’t happen alone and sometimes it feels like it does. As an more experience educator, I value a mentor or a coach to watch me teach. Having a coach or a mentor is an invaluable gift as you will have someone who knows your style and dilemma and is able to ask the questions to help you personalize a strategy that will help you and your constituents out. They are able to watch you from the outside, help collect data, and ask the questions to re-frame the dilemma. They have capacity to see the invisible as the person teaching manages the strategies, their stress level, and read the class. It’s hard to see the invisible dynamics in that moment which is why I feel it is important to have a coach, mentor, or teacher buddy to help re-frame your strategy.

It’s Your Turn

Teaching is a conglomerate of different strategies but our big picture, our purpose, and our why’s frame what we do, drives what we do, and guides us to use certain strategies to solve certain dilemmas in our field. Find the time in the next couple weeks to anchor yourself in your big picture.

  • Remind yourself of the events from the last school year — the successes, challenges, the questionable moment and use that as data to look at and analyze.
  • Come up with a number of goals you want to work on and choose a goal that you feel that you need to grow in as that will be your focal work. Form an action research question and list all the strategies that you might want to use that will help you get to that big picture.
  • Find a coach, mentor, or a teacher buddy that you can work with help you with your practice
  • Schedule in time throughout the year where you can reflect and re-frame your big picture. Frequently revisit that big picture and re-frame it if necessary.

REMEMBER TEACHING WILL FOREVER BE AN ITERATIVE PROCESS. Enjoy the process. Happy Teaching!

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