Sunday, August 31, 2014
What a Year! Reflecting on What We Really Want
Professional Learning and Reflective Practice
This is a link to previous posts on reflective teaching and the responsibility we have to our profession - and ourselves - to be practitioners who are able to reflect on what we do on a minute-by-minute and day-by-day basis to be the best we can be. The ability to be able to critique our own practice and to allow others to do the same within a safe and nurturing environment, such as Critical Friends, is one of the most valuable gifts we can give not only to ourselves but also to our students and our profession.
One of the previous posts was written at the beginning of 2013 when I was beginning my final Masters paper. I can remember being so excited to finally be completing what I had dreamed about for many years. I was also excited about keeping my class together from the previous year - something that had only been done once before at our school. I've always been excited about learning and teaching and this year was no different, even after 15 years I was still just as passionate and excited about my profession as I was the first day I walked into my own classroom which, as I recall, was most likely the first day of the December holidays!! I couldn't wait - still can't.
What happened next in 2013 was one of the steepest learning curves I've experienced to date. By July I was having major issues with my balance and I had lost most of the hearing in my left ear. I was still functioning well as a classroom teacher and had received a glowing appraisal. Whatever was going on wasn't going to stop me from meeting the needs of my students!
On August 15 I was diagnosed with a very large benign brain tumour called a Vestibular Schwannoma or Acoustic Neuroma - I nicknamed this space invader 'Arthur' and was told that Arthur needed to be evicted and that this would be done within the next month. I was completely unimpressed as we'd worked so hard to keep my class together and I loved what I was doing.
To cut a long story short, Arthur was evicted on September 20 and I have made a full recovery, have run in the Auckland Round the Bays which had long been a goal, (less than 5 months after 8 hours of surgery), received a year-long extension from the fabulous team at the University of Otago so that I can finish my Masters (just about there!) and I'm training to run the Auckland half-marathon in November, raising money for CanTeen whom I'm a Senior Volunteer for. I haven't returned to full-time school as yet but am wanting to in 2015. I decided I needed to be fully fit and raring to go. I can't wait and will try to get back into a leadership role when I return as the past year has given me time to reflect on what I really want to do in education. I've met some amazing people and have found challenges in becoming part of the TeachThought team which I've loved. There have been far more positives than negatives from all of this.
What has this post got to do with teacher self-reflection? A lot as it turns out. Before diagnosis I was beginning to think that I wanted to do something outside of education. The past year has made me even more certain that education is where I belong despite the challenges we sometimes face in our profession. Ultimately it's the students who are at the centre of everything we do and I want / need to continue to be a part of that. To almost have that choice taken away from me was an incredible 'wake-up call'. I can't wait for 2015!