Be the One... Who Self Reflects
As the academic year is coming to a close, every teacher should take a moment and reflect on how the year went and what can be improved moving forward. Throughout this process it is important to ask the right questions which allow you to see your effectiveness.
I challenge you to reflect on these questions and look at your year.
What does a professional look like?
Let's say you wake up early and head to the gym in time to make it to that 5:30am spin class. In walks the teacher, who is overweight and still in pajamas. It's possible you have now lost some of your desire to be in that class, and that teacher may have lost a lot of credibility with the students and fellow staff members. It is important to remember that every day we step into our buildings we are representing the education profession as a whole.
As teachers we are the "face" of a healthy lifestyle to our students. They look at us and see what they are trying to achieve, a healthy person with a healthy lifestyle. Being able to walk the walk and talk the talk is a big deal when it comes to our lessons. I often think: How are you able to tell students that a healthy lifestyle is important, but you yourself are not leading that type of life? How do we have a dress code for students if we don't follow it as adults?
How do you stay organized?
As an educator you will constantly have things come up and challenges that you are facing. Without the ability to stay organized, you will struggle in assessments and classroom-management. Being organized allows for quick transitions and less down time, which in return means less behavioral problems. Classrooms need to be focused and driven with purpose and relevance.
How flexible are you?
It’s a Friday morning and one of your grade level team members is sick. They put in for a sub, but no one showed up. The class will be divided and your class just grew in size. This is a situation that happens all over the country and consistently. We need to be flexible for all different types of situations that we see on a daily basis. From day to day our kids are different. We need to make sure that we keep that open mind and are flexible in how we are dealing with them.
How do you stay creative?
Being an educator means that you are creating activities that are designed to master skills within a productive learning environment. This means that at any given moment an opportunity can arise to discover ideas for your classroom. You never know where your latest inspiration will come from. It can come from a T.V. show, watching your child's gymnastics class, or walking around the mall. Being able to take an idea, and evolve it into a fun and exciting activity that your students will enjoy creates a "buy in" from students and makes you a successful teacher.
What motivates you?
Unfortunately, many parents that I talk to refer to school and class that they experienced as kids with many negatives. Teachers need to stay motivated and eager to learn and grow as educators. A motivated teacher takes opportunities to learn new things and tries to be a leader in the field. Teachers who attend conferences/workshops tend to have students who experience a more positive physical education environment. Overall, motivated teachers extend their education, look for opportunities for growth, seek out those who are successful and try to learn from them, and see what can they work into their programs.
How patient are you?
Patience is a trait that needs to be exercised daily in school. As a teacher you are going to see a wide range of skill levels and abilities from students. The first time I ever taught first graders I was not sure if I would be able to survive them. They were more concerned about the butterflies than what was going on in class. However, with patience and classroom management the younger grades bring great joy to your classroom. Every teacher needs to remember that skill development at younger ages is extremely important, as it is the foundation for the rest of their lives.
How do you communicate with staff?
Being an effective communicator with other teachers about your program is very important. Open communication with them will increase the credibility of your program and everything you do on a daily basis. If the school "buys into" your program, the rewards of this partnership transfer to the students and everyone.
How do you communicate with parents?
Creating a website, Twitter, Instagram and using other communication tools, allows the school community to discover all the great things that go on in your school and in your classroom. Asking your principal for opportunities to share your program at PTA meetings is a great way for you to share with parents what is going on in your class, and for them to become enthused about what their child is learning and experiencing in your class. Overall, being an effective communicator with the school community can lead to fundraising, grants, and many opportunities for growth in your classroom.
What do you do to be a leader in your building?
As a teacher you have potential to get students enthused about many different things in school. Students tend to gravitate towards teachers, looking for guidance on what is and isn't fun and exciting. Be excited! Are you staying positive? Help the school by getting the student population enthused about learning. Most elementary physical education teachers see most of the student population. So, because you are one of the few teachers on campus who knows all the students, when issues arise the administration may look to you for information. This position puts you in a unique spot to provide needed feedback to administration. Volunteer for leadership opportunities. Nothing looks better for your program than if you are helping lead the school in committees and in the class.
What do you do for fun?
The last, but not least, important characteristic is that you need to be a fun person. If you are not having fun, how are your students supposed to get excited about learning and who would want to be a teacher? Your job is to get these students interested in the activities they do so that they will want to continue doing them for the rest of their lives.
At the end of each year this self-evaluation has become a habit. It allows time to reflect on what has worked, and what has not. But most importantly it allows time to evaluate the direction you are going as a teacher. What are my goals and where do I want to take my program?
It is very important for teachers to think about these characteristics daily, which will help you make sure your lessons are of most benefit to your students.
Be the one who takes time to reflect on your practices and how you can grow as a professional.