Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who I Am: a Reflection of Who I've Been


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Each semester, Cyndi Danner-Kuhn starts a new .ning network, Kansas Future Teachers for her educational technology students. She is very collaborative and innovative in her work, and I am glad to help by sharing my teaching and learning experiences with these pre-service teachers at Fort Hayes State University. I have included a copy of my introduction essay for this semester's students.

If you are reading this, you are, most likely, part of my PLN (professional learning network). I would like to invite you to join us and share your expertise.


Remember the saying, "What Goes Around Comes Around?" As the years go by, ...that saying [will] reveal itself in action more and more. This an opportunity to put into practice what we call scaffolding, or the spiral of knowledge that Vygotsky suggested in his theoretical studies of learning. As a life-long learner, I have used that spiraling ...[visualization of learning] to make connections in my education, teaching career and life.

Since I began teaching in 1975, I have learned, taught and experienced a multitude of theories, trends and issues as they appear, disappear and reappear.

One thing that I can say with certainty is that my professional teaching life has been healthier and happier when I "go with the flow", when I
* see an opportunity for professional growth in NEW THEORIES that are really old wine wrapped in a new flask
* understand that bad situations make sad communities and you just have to "walk away", kick the dust off your sandals and never look back.

I am healthy and happily working online, building my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and providing professional development resources "...in service to the community".

Having taught many grade and subject levels from Kindergarten to college level students, I enjoy teaching. My areas of expertise began with Microbiology, then elementary, then high school and later, special education K-12. My resume' is quite extensive, yet I have had the privilege to learn, grow, and work with many teachers, parents and other community members who were even more insightful, knowledgeable and collaborative. My career has taken me from the forested region across Lake Ponchetrain in Louisiana to the desert plains of the Llano Estacado in Southeastern New Mexico to continue here in Kansas.

Through living the life of a teacher's child, I always sought the camraderie and professional advice of those who were the most experienced at the schools where I taught. I still do that, yet it is a bit more difficult now because I am frequently the "grand dame" of the school.

Of course, in teaching, it's all about the kids, but you MUST take care of yourself. You must be healthy and happy. If you aren't, if you keep your "nose to the grindstone, you will end up with no nose!" You will become worn out...you will be unable to accept change....you will not GROW as a teacher.

The take-away message here is to remember that you are part of a TEAM of people, including students, parents, teachers, and the larger community of learners. It is my belief that you will be a better teacher when you work in a collaborative, not competitive environment where people's self esteem comes from providing for students, not gathering accolades for all the "stuff" you belong to or control. When you and your community are really teaching and learning, the accolades will follow.

If you have decided to become a teacher, you know you won't make much money, you know you will work long hours and you know that you must live a tightly controlled life, BUT THIS IS ALL WORTH IT, iff you have the OPPORTUNITY to teach kids who learn and develop in your care. That's right! Your care, your guidance, your teaching is the key! That is what it is all about! The pure joy of watching children of various ages and stages learn and grow as you teach.

4 comments:

Wm Chamberlain said...

I look back and see how much my professionalism has changed in the last fifteen years. Some of the change came slowly and some much more quickly. I am not the teacher I used to be and I feel much regret for the students I had then.

With our personal learning networks, the question we must ask ourselves is "What are we becoming?" I know that I am becoming more knowledgeable about both teaching and learning. I am becoming a more vocal advocate for my students. I am becoming a teacher that seeks to learn, instead of waiting to be taught. I am becoming!

Sheryl said...

Thanks for your insightful comments about your growth as a teacher. While it may be true that you probably became a better teacher as you developed your craft, I am fairly confident that you probably did teach those early students well. Good teachers always see their needs, but that is how we grow.

I agree that I am also a better teacher now, even though it was always my priority to try my best and teach each child in the most effective way that I knew.

Being a lifelong learner is much preferred to "...waiting to be taught". I like the way you phrased your continued growth as a teacher, "I am becoming!"

machcarol said...

Thank you for sharing your blog. I found it inspiring. :) Carol (machcarol)

samccoy said...

I want to encourage you to share your experiences by joining the Kansas Future Teachers

I appreciate sharing my experiences and reflections with fellow teachers. I think it's these common experiences that we share through reflections that reinforce our positive interactions as teachers. I am glad to be part of your PLN.