Teaching is a profession that transcends all others, carrying the responsibility of preparing students for every career path possible. Like the expectations we have for students, built with the end in mind, we must have the same accountability for ourselves. Our end goal must always be student success in learning and guidance towards realizing their true potential. With this great accountability, we owe it to our students to stay current on educational research and facilitate class everyday full of passion for the content we teach. This can only be accomplished with an open mind to new ideas, meaningful professional development and a deeply connected PLN.
In my career I have been presented with many opportunities for growth and blessed with mentors who encouraged and challenged me to be better for my students. Several years ago I was working in a district that adopted a new vision challenging the very core of how I viewed the classroom model. This new vision pushed teachers to reevaluate their idea of true student centered instruction. It was supported through professional development that encouraged innovative teaching strategies and risk taking to meet the diverse needs of the students in our classrooms. Strategies such as Project Based Learning, Flipped Classroom, and Blended Learning opportunities were encouraged. I knew that I needed to be open to the change and allow my mind to embrace an idea that would empower my students. I finally decided to jump in, what I experienced changed the way I facilitated my classroom and viewed my role as the teacher. I understood learning in a whole new way. Students learned their objectives through real world projects that they created. They were given the expected outcomes on day one and we would work together to find the best way to meet their goals. Though it was an amazing experience, it was not an easy transition. Students and teachers both questioned the change. I knew then, it was my duty to advocate for the great things I was seeing in my room. My typically low performing students, were coming out of their shells and showing potential I hadn't seen in my old classroom setting. My AP students were forced to step out of their comfort zone that resulted in them using the information to solve real world problems instead of simply memorizing. This prompted me to open my classroom to any teachers who were interested and speak out to encourage others to join the coalition for change. Reminding myself when I was uncomfortable and felt like a fish out of water, it was what was best for kids; not what was best for me.
A fire was ignited that year that has driven me to help others reclaim their passion for teaching and growing students. This was made much easier through the power of my PLN on Twitter. I have learned to "Teach Like a Pirate", redesign learning spaces with inspiration from Stanford D. School, edchat with some of the most brilliant minds in education, and discovered the potential for proffesional growth at an EdCamp. These are just a few of the great things I have learned as a connected educator. All of these things have helped me make deeper connections with students and facilitate learning experiences for them that I would have otherwise not been able to.
The profession of teaching will continue to evolve. It is our job to be accountable to our students through constant self-evaluation, commitment to life long learning, and teaching with passion everyday.