September 2022 Teacher Voice

Welcome to Your Best Year of Teaching

Let’s face it, the last few years of teaching have been… challenging. In fact, they have been downright difficult. Sheltering students from an impending pandemic. Closing schools abruptly without any sense of if or when they would return in person. Finishing up the 2019-2020 school year however you could, or if you could. Learning technologies to teach from. Zoom. Google Meets. PearDeck. Desmos. Getting a second degree in IT. Then ushering students through the 2020-2021 school year in whatever ways you could: in person, virtual, hybrid - and, oh the many various forms of hybrid learning we saw! Then, finally getting students back into the classrooms in a “mostly normal” (but what was ever normal) manner for the 2021-2022 school year. And then remembering how to teach. And teaching students how to be students again. And trying to survive, make it through, all the while being inundated with news and media coverage of teacher attrition.

And now here you are. The start of the 2022-2023 school year. But I have good news for you. This year is going to be the best year - well the best THIS year. Because it is. You will be the best teacher you can be THIS year. Your students will be the best you ever have THIS year. Your administrators, parents, community members are all going to be the best you get to work with THIS year. 

We are only going to get one 2022-2023 school year. And knowing that, we know this year is going to be the best this year can be. We have learned so much over these past few years; about ourselves, about our abilities, about our students and their needs, about our coworkers. If we take this culmination of knowledge, the sum of this year will be so much greater than these parts. 

How can I be so certain this year will be so amazing? That this year will be the best?  Well, the best THIS year? Because, I’ve committed to the following. I invite you to consider where you are on these commitments - and how shifting your mindsets to align with these mindsets can make this year… well a lot less difficult than the last few years of teaching.

  1. Presuming positive intentions (particularly of others) - I am committing to positivity. Positivity for the school year. But more than that - positivity and a presumption of positive intentions for everyone around me. And that can be tough. But let's think about this for a moment. Everyone who does this job, who works in education, who still remains after the hardships of the last few years, do so because they care about the work, the students, they care about the schools, they care about seeing you succeed in your classroom. Sure, their path to that success may differ from yours. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have positive intentions. And if we frame in those positive intentions, when conflict does arise, we can combat that conflict from a position of care.

Instead of arguing with the person, I plan on  addressing them immediately and respectfully from a position of care. Knowing I care so deeply, and presuming they care so deeply. And seek to find our respective truths and then talk about how we can overcome the conflict.

Oh, and our students - let's remember their positive intentions too. No one wants to fail. Failing is hard on us - for me, failure is shattering. We just sometimes have to work a little harder to find that resolution at times.

  1. Embrace these last few years (and the lessons learned): Ok - the last few years were awful. But we as teachers learned - and grew - so much. There are so many practices that I have adopted now because of teaching through a pandemic, that make me a better teacher. From starting class with a discussion about a non-academic topic as well as exploring the life and contributions of a mathematician (usually one of color or female or gay or trans or…) to the power of some of the online tools at our disposal like PearDeck or Desmos, tools that allow us to give immediate and private feedback to students. 

We learned a lot. And we want to get better. So let's keep building upon what we learned, building upon what we know is best for students, building upon all that made us better teachers these last few years. 

  1. Connect with your community: We know teaching can be isolating. Being trapped in a room with 30 kids for anywhere from 50 minutes to 3 hours at a time doesn’t leave us much time to connect with others. It can be lonely. But you have a community. You have coworkers. And hey, guess what? Each of them have amazing ideas, lessons, activities, etc in regards to teaching. So steal, borrow, acquire. Use each other - use your community and their brilliance.

And, guess what? Your community doesn’t stop at your school. You have a whole district, region, state of educators that are willing to work with you. This place right here, CCTM, is one of those communities. One where educators can engage with each other. Can learn from and with each other. Can help each other grow. And can steal, borrow, acquire lessons, activities, whatever from one another. 

But the only thing about a connection is that it takes two parties to work. So reach out - make that connection, in your building, in CCTM, wherever. We need connections. We are not competing with other educators. We can all win at this game of teaching. But we are much more equipped to win when we work together.

So, there you have it - the 2022-2023 school year is going to be the best THIS year there ever was or is. Why? Well, for starters this is the only year we get this year… But beyond that, because I, and hopefully you, are going to commit to three simple mindsets: presuming positive intentions, embracing the last few years, and connecting with a community. 

I’d wish you a great school year, a most wonderful school year, but I already know that this year will be the best THIS year you’ve ever had.