Value. How much is our professional drive inherently linked to how much we value ourselves? How much is our internal value meter dependent on our personal character, relationships, individual growth, and accomplishments? When do teachers feel like the meter is dipping down towards the empty level and need refueling?
I don’t know if we are fully cognizant of the defining moment when we feel less valued as humans…… or teachers. It creeps up on us and we wake up, forcing ourselves to go through the motions as teachers: objectives on board- check! Photocopies done- check! Grades inputted-check! Rigorous lesson plans- check! Classroom managed and engaged- check! Staff meeting- check! PLC head-nodding- check! Go home, eat, sleep, and repeat! Then one day somebody turns to you and says, “What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.” And suddenly the fog of ambiguity lifts and you feel….. valued.
What if no one has said that to you?? Then maybe it’s time to make your teaching talents known!! We can’t expand our educational expertise unless we, the teachers, become lifelong learners. It’s the beginning of fourth quarter in most Arizona schools- time to refresh yourself and end the school year strong!
- Begin an authentic Professional Learning Community. Several school districts have adopted that term to label grade level meetings, but do your research and see how transformational they can be! Use an area you are passionate about, and form a team of educators from different grade levels and schools to create a valuable team of professionals. I would love to begin a PLC about increasing student engagement through differentiation of our school district’s reading curriculum.
- Book Study!!! Offer a new pedagogical book and meeting time/place for your peers to participate in. I am currently reading “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough. I would love to have fellow educators join me in reading and discussing it.
- Visit an inspiring school, teacher, or professional. How many of us have saved a discretionary or personal day off for the last quarter? Use it for fun and professional stimulation. I loved having a school garden for the past 8 years. But it’s time for me to look for newer ideas to create and incorporate the school garden within my classroom. Visiting Tucson Village Farm was incredibly exciting and helpful for me last year.
- Participate in a educator training, inservice, workshop, or graduate class. Find one that excited you and motivates you to shake up the classroom!
- Become involved in a local charity to give back to the community. Model how to be a positive, encouraging citizen to your students!
Not to be negative, but I can already hear the excuses- busy with test prep, packing up the classroom, too tired, etc. But I can guarantee finding a way to learn, collaborate, and volunteer helps all the end-of-year check-lists feel more meaningful.
Self-value is important to our intrinsic drive as educators. Fill up your value tank as you finish the school year- it won’t just benefit yourself, but your students as well!