We tell our students it's okay to fail. We tell them it's okay to make mistakes as long as you grow from them. We tell them not to worry and that it'll all work out. We tell them you learn more from doing something wrong than doing something right. We smile at our students and tell them to persevere, bounce back and to work through it. We tell them We tell them this when they get a bad grade, don't make the school team, or don't get into the college they want. But what about us as teachers? What about when you go after something just like our students do and you do quite reach what you want?
I make mistakes on a daily basis. There is no surprise there and it's something I really do embrace, usually with a good laugh at that. But sometimes you give something your all and you have those 'oh I really want this' moments and still it is just out of your reach.
This is exactly what happened to me this week. I had applied to Google Teacher Academy in Southeast Asia and, of course, was waiting patiently for a response on the status of my application. I had made a video, answered the questions, shared my resume and was pretty happy with my application overall. Was it perfect? No, there were things I wished I had fixed or changed or added in the end but that's always the case when it comes to the learning process. Then I got the email that informed me this time wasn't my time to be accepted into the programme.
Of course, I was a bit bummed at first. I had that sinking feeling that takes me back to my Grade 7 year when I didn't make the co-ed baseball team at school. It was an opportunity I really wanted to be a part of and felt I could learn a lot from. But I believe everything happens for a reason and it just wasn't meant to be right now.
Sometimes when you want something, you seem to forget about what you already have. If I stop for a second, I see how much I have accomplished already. When I look back over my teaching career, it's amazing to see where I am already and I am so thankful for each opportunity that I've been given. As I begin only my third year of teaching, I've had the pleasure of living in 2 countries, developed my technology skills tremendously and been guided and inspired by fantastic international educators. I've had the opportunity to take PYP workshops, present at a conference, lead training within my school and recently moved into a Year Group Coordinator position. I get to work with students who inspire me each and every day and who bring so much laughter and joy into my life. Never did I think I would have a career that lets me create digital products, foster leadership in others, share my own love of learning and also get to play dodgeball and dance all in the few hours of a workday.
I've really only been using GAFE in my 1 to 1 classroom for a year now and I can't believe the transformation I've had as an educator because of it. Just like I tell my students to do, I'll try again next round. Each time I'll have more experience under my belt, more knowledge of GAFE, and in general, will hopefully be better a teacher than I was before. I am presented with the challenge of using GAFE in my classroom and trying to become more knowledgeable with the tools I use on a daily basis. I will continue to develop innovative ways to learn with my students. I do hope in my professional future that I do have the opportunity to be a part of the Google Teacher Academy and other professional opportunities that lie ahead. An obstacle only lights the determination within more as I continue to focus on making my classroom a positive and engaging learning environment for my students.
No one is ever going to be told yes every time. No one is going to get 100% every single time. No one is truly perfect. Mistakes matter. Mistakes make people develop character, resiliency and a different outlook on life. So failure isn't really anything but finding a new approach to the same problem, a new way of looking at things and just one of many ways that don't work. Failure is just a way of saying a you've still got a challenge to overcome.
As a relatively new teacher still (just about to start my third year), I make mistakes every single day... and lots of them! Yet one of the things you'll often hear me say is "Tomorrow I will be a better teacher".
Each day you walk into your classroom you are opening up yourself to the possibility of learning something new. In the past two years of teaching, I have grown as a teacher ten fold and pushed myself beyond what I knew I was capable of as a teacher. I am constantly being a risk-taker in my classroom and it is something I hope I instil in my students as well. In my classroom, it is okay to fail and make mistakes providing you take away valuable learning from it and apply it to future experiences.
My first year of teaching I taught Grade 1 in a PYP candidate school in Beijing, which was also my first international placement. I had a wonderful Head of Primary who encouraged me to try new things in my classroom and see how they went. Sometimes they worked, other times they didn't - but always I took away valuable insight that could be directly put back into my daily practice. Knowing that I had that freedom and support really pushed me to not be afraid of the unknown in my classroom.
This past year, I was lucky enough to work at a school in Singapore that has grown very dear to my heart. Though some might think that moving to Singapore would be an easy transition, I found the learning curve steep, especially with the high expectations I often placed on myself. I was jumping up to Year 5 (Grade 4) with a 1-to-1 laptop programme in my class in a fully accredited PYP school. Coming from a school in Beijing with limited access to technology, my school in Singapore provided me with unlimited possibilities. Again, I was supported by individuals who knew a tremendous amount about the world of education technology but yet still let me explore, find my own way and ask questions. I had to really try to find my feet and figure out who I wanted to be as an educator and within our school community.
Now that I am continuing in my second year at the same school and grade, I have the opportunity to improve upon what I executed last year and tweak, change, modify all of the many things I would have done differently. Not having to worry about moving and establishing myself in a new city and country, learning the curriculum, technology equipment and school culture will all me to focus more on just simply teaching and improving at a job that I am very passionate about.
It seems to be the case always that the stumbles in life are where the most meaningful learning occurs and I know this year will be nothing different. I already am excited for the possibilities that lie ahead and the new mistakes I will learn from.
This year I have decided to document some of those good days, mistakes, growth and experiences in and surrounding my classroom in the form of this blog. Reflection is one of the best methods I find for improving my own teaching practice and hope this documented form of reflection will help me continue to better myself for the betterment of my students. I hope you will learn with me through this blog, share your own thoughts and 'tomorrow be a better teacher'.