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Here are a few things that I can’t do without:
· Structure (set the habits)- In a school and classroom, plan and organize appropriately.
· Rigor- Push yourself and your team to be the best and always look to move from “good to great” while having high but clear and attainable expectations.
· Respect (culture)- Have and demonstrate respect for everyone in the community and value their individuality (teacher-teacher as well as teacher-student which leads to student-student).
· Collaboration and Teamwork- Be there for one another. Be a student and a teacher. Be willing to teach/coach and be willing to learn. Accept that you will be in and out of both of those roles your entire life.
Ok, so after reading Greens sections on the various leadership styles, I found it to be kind of difficult to label my leadership skills. I was taking a look at the various quadrants to place myself in and I figured that I would just take it one quadrant of a time. First, looking at figure 2.1, Four Quadrants of Leadership, I would consider myself to be in the high structure/high consideration quadrant. When I think about structure, I consider the many times that I have helped my colleagues with lesson plans, field studies, cross content collaboration, classroom management, and more. When doing this, I try to make sure that everything is available for them, that everything in understandable. I then think about how I check in to either hold them accountable, in a non-threatening way, or offer a chance for them to try it out and give feedback that we can then discuss together. Another way that I feel that I help push my fellow teachers is by offering my hand in connecting reading and writing strategies into their classroom. I have to consider that not all teachers learn to teach reading and writing and that it seems to be what the students do in every class. I have often met with our principal to discuss ways in which I can assist them without overstepping and making them feel overwhelmed. When I think about High consideration, I think about a few of the areas that I had just mentioned. I try my best and believe that I am considered to be approachable. My fellow teachers do not hesitate to ask for assistance, which also tells me that they can trust me. I also feel that it is important to check in with them as a team before making any large decisions that may affect their teaching. I realize that I only touched on one of the quadrants, but I would also like to connect this to feeling as though I would fall in the High Task/High Relationship quadrant. I feel that I push my team to be the best that they can be, but I do this in a team fashion. One way in which I do this is by offering room for suggestions so that everyone is taking ownership. I often invite fellow teachers in to observe so that I can show them how I would approach the task, then meet with them in a debrief, and then on to planning and working with them before they try it on their own. I know that although I place my leadership style in these quadrants, I have lots of room to grow and I am still in the practicing stages of my leadership and understand that I may not always be doing as great as I think that I am. I believe that an important part of this though is to stay positive for myself and for my team. I also understand that this may not be what I do all of the time, but it is the path that I believe is most effective and want to practice.
My beliefs about children are 100% connected with challenges that I have faced throughout my education. I don’t think that this is a negative; we learn to be better people by overcoming challenges or by taking them on. We all face challenges, some of them purposefully, and others just find us at different states in our life. When I think about education for me, I can’t help but want to share that I am the first member of my immediate family including my parents to graduate from college Education was not something that was talked about in my family and unfortunately; I had 3 siblings who liked to keep my parents on their toes. College was not an expectation.
I look back on when I was younger and I honestly hated to read. I would ignore it, hide from it, and put it aside for as long as I could. I didn’t have books in the house growing up and don’t remember any of my siblings being into reading. For me, it was difficult. I would find myself frustrated as I would read a chapter and not be able to remember what it was about. I was not ever pulled aside and worked with because I got good grades in everything else. I think that my teachers just thought that I was lazy. I remember sitting with my English teachers and in order to get credit for reading a book, they would turn to a certain page, read a sentence and then ask me to tell them about what was happening. On many occasions, my teachers said that they did not think that I read the book. This was also done in front of other students during silent reading. This made me feel pretty dumb because I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, I didn’t know why others breezed through books so fast and I took forever. I often pretended to be done with a reading in class so that I would not be the last one turning the page. I would have that feeling o pressure and anxiety every time we had to read a few pages in class before moving on to the next assignment. I hated English.
I am now an English teacher and I know that it was my experiences that have lead me here. I have shared my experiences with my students so that they feel comfortable understanding that everyone learns at a different pace and we all have different strengths. They are completely shocked to hear that I used to hate to read but I then explain to them that I decided that I didn’t want students to feel the way I did. I believe that these experiences have taken me far. I talk to my students often about having goals and achieving those goals with hard work.
I think that many of my students can relate to my story of not having any family members who have graduated from college. We talk about how this could go one of two ways. Either they will want it for you and help to push you, or they wont understand the importance, or the dedication it takes to get there! I had one sibling who checked in with me about school. I knew that I was not going to have the proper environment to focus by staying at home so I decided to take a soccer scholarship for The University of Memphis just to live with her. Her and her husband were taking courses her and their while both working full time and raising their son. They understood my commitment. When I eventually moved back after realizing soccer was getting in the way, I came across some health challenges that slowed me down but did not stop me. It was at this time that I met my husband Donovan. He was a blessing who also understood the importance of my graduating from college. Even when we later started talking about marriage, it was clear that we would not become engaged until after graduation so that it did not take my mind off of a goal that meant so much to me. He took it so literal, he proposed to me at my college graduation party. He knew I wanted to graduate first! I have continued to push myself by creating new goals ever since I graduated.
Why did I become a teacher?
I know that there is more that I want to say than what is going to come out right now, but I will try my best to organize my thoughts. Ever since I was little, I had two careers in mind. I knew that I wanted to work with children, but I didn’t know if I wanted to be a teacher or a pediatrician. I often played both roles at home with my stuffed animals.
When it comes down to it, I knew that I wanted to help kids grow, whether it be in body or mind. As I came closer to choosing my profession, I realized that my experiences helped me choose. I would have to say that I was lucky to have all kinds of teachers. I had amazing teachers who taught me to “Go above and beyond.” I unfortunately also had teachers who, for lack of better words, did the opposite. I wanted to be the teacher who encourages children to learn, who gives them the confidence they need, and who never lets them give up!
What do I believe about children and their education?
A child’s education is in our hands. We, as educators, have a larger impact than what we sometimes realize. I believe that every child wants to learn something; we just need to find what motivates them. I believe that we teach them more than content.
What do I believe education is preparing students for?
We prepare them to question, communicate, collaborate, and take action. We are preparing them to be all around successful individuals. We prepare them to be life long learners. We are preparing our students for life.