When I first saw this inspiratioalgraphic a few months ago, I thought about how the criteria applied to me and wondered where I was with all the items on the graphic. I thought about how this year with all its changes and challenges have made me look at my identity more realistically, and at times having this modern teacher mindset has been difficult to maintain.
Today when I stumbled across the graphic again (on a draft blog post), I began wondering how it really applies to who I am and where I am right now as a teacher, and I decided to finally finish the slice about it.
- Choose to be vulnerable. Yes. With tech when I try a new tool and with general teaching when I try a new strategy or lesson, I put myself out there. I think choosing to be vulnerable helps me innovate and grow, but I am also learning that having a safety net is key as well. Limiting the extent of vulnerability does help the day run more smoothly.
- See themselves as co-learners not teachers. I think I vacillate between the two, honestly. With new technology, I know that I’m a co-learner, but I also know myself to be a content expert. Still, though, when reading and analyzing text, so often I learn new things from the kids, so, yeah, I’m a co-learner.
- Allow themselves to fail, often. This goes along with number 1. I mean, I have to take risks, but I don’t like to fail, especially often. I think the safety net should be there. Sometimes a lesson or an idea won’t work, but I need to be prepared to pinch hit in that case.
- Don’t wait until they’re experts to introduce something. That is sooooo true with trying out new technology, but this is also true with innovating instruction and trying new things. If everybody waited to be an expert, there would be no innovation.
- Move into their students’ world even if it’s foreign territory. I think this is so important because so often teachers miss the mark on reaching and engaging kids–entering the students’ world is key.
- Run towards their area of weakness not away from it. I feel like this school year has been my year of running there–straight at my areas of weakness. At times, I’ve hit a wall, but I’m learning how to not keep hitting the same wall again and again. Sometimes all I need is to change direction and gain a new perspective.
- Are comfortable not knowing what’s going to happen. Middle school–who really knows what’s going to happen. Some of the best lessons are the ones where a unexpected shift happens and the direction changes.
- Invite mistakes into their lives. At some point this year, I became accepting of this and finally realized it’s not the mistakes that cause problems; it’s refusing to acknowledge them and deal with them that can cause problems.
- Dream big and ask “Why not?” I’ve always been a dreamer and an asker. This is good, but this doesn’t make change happen. I’m learning that after I ask, “Why not?” I have to also ask, “Why?” and “How?” and “By what means?” and “Is this really important?”
- Allow their students to teach each other. Yes, they are co-learners, too. This is so often much more powerful than when I am teaching them.
- Step outside of their comfort zone. Step there. But don’t jump there with reckless abandon. Yup. That’s new for me.
- Embrace change. That’s always been easy for me if I am the agent of change, if change is from my big dreams. I have learned that embracing change sometimes is just answering the call, catching the pass, playing well on the team.
- Feel secure asking their colleagues for help. I think that’s part of being vulnerable, collaborating, and sharing the load. Yes, I have gotten better at this.
- Model resiliency and perseverance. I used to think that I always had this in check, but I now know that how I saw myself is not how others see me. I think, though, that I’m getting better at this.
- Question everything. And how? Of course, sometimes I need to shut off the questions, so I can get things done.
- Believe they can learn anything, given the right attitude and effort. I think I no longer play lip service to this. I have areas that are struggles for me, but I think if ask for help, step outside my comfort zone, model resiliency and perseverance, run towards weakness, and allow myself to fail while in process, then I will be able to learn anything.
Habits of mind–yes, habits of mind are critical for the modern teacher. While I’ll never be a 100% expert at having the habits of mind of a modern teacher, I’ll always be striving to become that teacher.