How do you measure accomplishment or prowess in a job like teaching, with constantly evolving challenges and a new cast of students each September? Though I’ve finished three years at my school now, I’ve actually been teaching for nine years, and I think I’ve come a bit closer to the answer, after reading Tammy’s entry on the accomplishments she can claim from the past school year. She has nineteen years in, and nineteen positives about her year, which is characteristic for Tammy; her blogging voice is one of the most consistently optimistic I know. Now that I have some distance from the overwhelming sense of constant motion I felt this year, I am pleased to think of just how much I did manage to get accomplished.
My nine accomplishments, from the 2009-2010 school year:
Presenting at AIMS, which was a first for me in this new phase of my career and gave me a wonderful sense of contributing productively to my profession
Publishing my first teaching article. For me, this represents not only being a continuing part of the professional conversation, but taking a new step as a writer, expanding on the nonfiction work I’ve done.
Traveling to Denver for the People Of Color conference, re-immersing myself in the work on diversity and multiculturalism that I spent so much time and energy on in graduate school while also making some new connections with colleagues.
Reading college essays: Even just rereading this entry from last September makes me tired, and college essays were a big part of that pacing dilemma. But rereading that entry also reminds me how lucky I felt to be so engaged in my school and my work, and reading college essays was also a big part of that. One-on-one writing work with students is one of my favorite aspects of my work and always has been, and having so many students trust me with such personal writing was indeed an honor.
Serving as dramaturg for Much Ado About Nothing: my school’s spring play this year was this Shakespeare classic, the first our school had done in my years there. Our theater teacher asked if I would come in a few times during table read sessions and then sporadically through the weeks of rehearsal, to help the cast with meaning, pronunciation and the humorous aspects of the text. I am so glad that I agreed to do so, because I had a blast!
Using dialectical notebooks and blogs: I have a series of posts planned on dialectical notebooks and an upcoming feature for Instructify on using blogs and discussion boards for peer review , so I won’t say much more here, but I am definitely excited to build on this in the upcoming year.
Advising: This was my first year working within an advisory program, and I didn’t blog about it at all, though it took up a large part of my time and energy this year. I don’t see any way I’ll be able to blog about it in the future, either, because part of what makes advising so powerful (and tiring) is the way the advisor becomes integrated into a student’s life, both at school and at home. Is that always true? No, but it can be, and that potential makes it a complicated role to navigate, and I’m thrilled I made it through my first year advising.
Surviving my first Unbloggable Issue. I think I moved forward in a timely and appropriate fashion, but the ripple effects continue to come, and continue to affect me.
Surviving my first full-time year! It was tough, and I felt swamped for most of the year, but I think that after experiencing all of these “firsts,” the upcoming year will be a little less hectic. I’m really proud that I didn’t let it completely submerge me, and that I kept moving forward despite feeling continually behind.
I highly recommend this activity if, like me, you spent a lot of time this summer decompressing from a hectic year, or even if you are a teacher looking to get a fresh perspective on a career that can sometimes seem sisyphean. As a goal-setting strategy, this also makes me think about what my accomplishments might look like at this time next summer…..