Here we are at the end of another school year. What a mixture of emotions- relief, melancholy, excitement, exhaustion, reflection- just to name a few.
This is the end of year 10 for me. 10 years ago, I never could have imagined making it this far, much less all of the change that years 8, 9, and 10 would bring to my life. There is no doubt that my journey towards National Board Certification was the catalyst in this latest portion of my career, kicking off my work as Parent Involvement Facilitator, AFLTA Advocacy Team member, my master’s degree, and just recently the teacher of the year for my school and secondary teacher of the year for my district.
This is a lot- a lot to process, a lot to do, a lot to balance. Don’t even get me started on what it is like to try to figure out why anyone thinks I am worthy of any of these awards or positions! But right now my mind is on my colleagues. At the end of my 10th year, I realize that no one is at the same place in their career and I realize that there is absolutely no right or wrong place for anyone to be. My job, all of our job, is to support our colleagues no matter where they are in their journey.
We hear a lot about differentiation for students. We hear about taking all of their backgrounds, all of their stories into consideration when we are developing learning goals, activities, and assessments. Multiculturalism, constructivism, whatever you want to name it, we are all about the individual student when it comes to teaching. It truly is a great time of enlightenment for our profession!
But what about the teachers? How often do you, as an educator, just sit still and listen to their stories? You know that one teacher who goes it alone everyday, without talking to anybody? Have you listened to his story? Have you heard your students talk about how he’s actually the person who has taught them the most? And then there’s that one teacher who annoys everyone. She doesn’t seem to know a thing about what she’s doing, but she always wants to put her two cents in. But have you heard about her struggles at home, and how she really has grown so much and she really does try very hard to learn new things? Did you hear about the 36 year UBER-professional veteran who comes to school everyday at 6:30, leaves at 4:00, never misses a day of school, always wears a tie, and is loved and adored by his students because of his rigorous yet super fun class? Did you hear about how he got a “basic” on his teacher evaluation just because he didn’t have two artifacts uploaded? Have you listened to the overachiever about how hard it is to get out of bed every day and put a smile on his face and make “all this” happen?
The thing is, everyone is in a different season of their career. Some are ready to hit the ground running tomorrow, day one of summer. They’ve signed up for every learning experience they can find. They are CRUSHING it! Others have seen their glory days, and right now, they just want to “crush it” for their students. And some, still, are just doing their best to put one foot in front of the other.
Listen to their stories, all of them, even the ones you don’t want to listen to. Actively listen to them. Hear all of the ways that you can help them be a better version of themselves, and learn from their struggles and achievements so that you can be the best version of yourself. Honor the season that they are in, and learn from it. You may (and probably will) find yourself in those shoes at some point within your career.
Now, I wonder what the next 10 years will bring?