Seven reasons I am super excited to return and teach at my international school this year
August 9, 2015
Some say it is difficult to go back to work after six-plus weeks off during the summer. Actually, I would have to agree. It is indeed hard to get back into the swing of things.
But after a turning-point or stand-out year for me last year, I quickly got excited to get this coming school year started. The first day back was a bit strange, with my focus on saying hi to everyone who I already knew and to those that were starting at my school for their first year. However, after completing my first day back at work, I started to get inspired again.
People are teachers for many reasons, and maybe those reasons change during the course of your career. Whatever those reasons are for you, they are the ones that get you excited and interested in teaching; which ultimately benefit the students that you teach and the people who work around you!
So, what are the seven reasons I am super excited to return and teach at my international school this year? Maybe you can relate to some of these!
#1 – To make my own goals for teaching.
Teaching is crazy. There is so much research out there. I mean there are a million things you could be doing in your classroom as a teacher. How can you decide which ones to focus on (because of course you cannot do them all!)? As an experienced teacher, I have got to a stage in my career where I like to make my own goals. It is not like I sat down and thought to myself that I need to even have goals. I am talking about goals that just kind of pop up naturally; ones that feel right. It is so fulfilling to have these personal goals, maybe more so than the goals that the school makes for you and the rest of the staff. I have dedicated much of my life to the career of teaching, so of course, I find it very interesting and engaging. With having personal goals for the school year, they keep my interest high and keep me on the right track; which in turn makes me have a good feeling about how I am teaching and how it is positively affecting my students and staff around me.
#2 – To have the freedom to choose many aspects of how I want to teach in my classroom.
I am lucky at my international school, as I do have a lot of autonomy to do what I feel is best in my classroom. Luckily, I feel like my administration supports me in doing this. I know there are international schools out there that are more restrictive. Some schools even have scripts for teacher to use during their lessons. Teaching in such a structured environment can really drain your inner-creativeness as a teacher. Getting the chance to brainstorm the “best way possible” in getting the students to meet the chosen objective is the best feeling ever for me. I enjoy checking out what other teachers are doing too in their classrooms, since they also have some freedom to choose how they want to teach. With an open-door classroom environment at my international school, teachers get to see what each other is doing.
#3 – To inspire myself and other teachers who share my queries about what good teaching looks like.
I love reading up on current research. I have many topics I am interested in, so why not share what I am reading with my colleagues? Teaching at a school is all about inspiring yourself and inspiring others. It is easy to turn into the “just get through the day” teacher, but when you are inspired, you can feel good about your teaching and see that effect on your students and in your interactions with your colleagues. I know I have found an aspect of teaching inspiring when I find myself surfing the internet for hours on a certain topic. I ended up running out of time to read all the articles I have found, which then creates my browser having many open tabs! Luckily, I have a Facebook group related to teaching that I can post these articles on; for others to read and for me to go back and read at a later time.
I can’t tell you how good it felt last year to do some “action” research on my teaching practice. Nobody told me to do this either, it just kind of happened. I found another teacher to try it out with me (one that works directly with me in the same classroom) and luckily they said that they were game. Because of the success I felt last year, I will continue some sort of research again this year. The research last year involved me filling out a Google form that I had created. Every day I filled out the form, which only took five minutes or so. After a few weeks of submissions, I then looked at all the statistics the form had been gathering. It was fun analyzing all the data. With that data, I could find areas that I was doing well in and areas in which I would like to improve. More importantly, all the areas were ones that I had personally chosen (i.e. ones that interested me!). Maybe this year I will have another teacher also fill out the same form (somebody in a different classroom). Then we can both compare our data with each other. In short, I highly recommend doing this!
#5 – To involve administration when I want to involve them
After teaching for so long, I have found that it is super important to involve the administration in your classroom. The key is when and how to involve them. I find that the best time to invite them in is when I have a “just-right” lesson coming up. Always good to have them see your students shine while being engaged in a cool student-centered lesson. You can also invite them in to give you feedback on a new thing you have decided to try. They are not there to evaluate you, but just to (maybe) give their feedback on aspects of the lesson. Remember now, all these visits from administration are instigated by you, the teacher. Another time to invite them in is when your students are going to be presenting some hard work that they have been working on, a culminating project for example. Finally, I would like to mention that I also involved my administration last year while doing my “action” research. They were very interesting in my little research project and quite keen to add their two cents on my project.
#6 – To coordinate completely voluntary meetings with other teachers during lunch times.
Teaching is great and working with students is also great. Getting together with other teachers to talk about teaching is great too. But recently I have found another great thing that you can do at your school, and that is to start some common-interest groups. I started up two different groups last year. Both groups were all voluntary and met 3-4 times a month. Without saying what each group talked about specifically, they were groups that were trying to start different grassroots efforts for the school itself and the wider school community. The topics were indirectly related to teaching, so it was nice to get the chance to talk to your colleagues in a kind of structured way on topics you do not necessarily have any other time to do so. Both groups started small, with only a few people coming to participate. But as the word got out (we did not advertise these groups in any way, so all new members to the group happened organically), other teachers started joining us. As more teachers got involved, the more serious we became in our grassroots effort for the cause. In one group, we even got the director of the school to join us during one meeting. He was quite impressed with our work and was happy to help us out. As the school year neared its end last year, we agreed that our work wasn’t finished and decided to continue them this year.
#7 – To work towards presenting at conferences with another teaching colleague.
Not everyone has the right kind of personality to present at conferences. I can think of a million reasons why I am not the best person to present in front of my colleagues or my peers who work at other international schools. But now that I have challenged myself to do just that, I think I will do it more! When you know that you have a goal to present, you are definitely super focused on doing what you need to do to make that happen. When you have to get things ready and prepared for your presentation, you are at a heightened level of focus in your teaching. Of course, this high focus will most likely mean that you are in “the zone” in your teaching. Many presentations involve the students as well. When you get your students on board with your pending presentation plans, they typically also get excited and are quite keen to help you out and provide feedback. If you haven’t found yourself presenting a lot or even at all, I highly recommend you give it a go. We all have something to share!
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