"How Is It December?" or "When You Don't Have Something Nice To Say..." or "How Year Four of Teaching Came to Be My Best Year Yet"

I've done a terrible job with my goal of regularly blogging this year. Part of that is because this year has had some real low points for me and I did not want to fill this space with negativity. There are a lot of scary statistics out there about the attrition rate in the first five years of teaching. Since I started, every year has had moments where I felt like I wasn't going to make it but this year was particularly hard because the things that made me feel like I wasn't going to make it through to year 5 had nothing to do with work load or students or parents, it had to do with a small handful of other educators.

There is a book out there called Escaping the School Leaders Dunk Tank, I started reading it earlier this year thinking it would help me with the challenges I was facing but it just made me more angry. It makes me angry that so few negative voices can have such an impact on school culture. It makes me angry that this is so much the norm in education that an entire book had to be written about it. It upsets me, makes me angry, and breaks my heart that a handful of teachers out there view teaching as a competition with winners and losers instead of seeing it as a team effort to help all our student succeed. Often times these few voices are the loudest and because of that they create a culture that must be actively fought.

So why write this now? Why after months of not writing because it was all too negative to post am I airing my grievances like this blog is celebrating Festivus?! Because for all the lows this year had, for all the moments I felt like maybe I wasn't cut out for this, 2017 has turned out to be my best year yet and that is something worth writing about.

How Year Four of Teaching Came to Be My Best Year Yet: 

  • I have had multiple meetings with administrators this year where I have walked in feeling like I couldn't do this anymore and walked out feeling ready to change the world
  • I took a leap with changing grading practices in my classroom and now I know my students better than I ever have before and I am immensely grateful for that. 
  • I got the chance to work with our BYOD committee and regularly meet and plan how to make our classrooms more innovative. 
  • I've had the chance to work with a long-term sub in our history department who has so much drive, energy, and passion that she makes me want to put even more passion and energy into my own teaching. 
  • I have sat in STEM collaboration meetings where a team is working to create a PBL based academy from the ground up and I have learned so much from it.
  • In those same meetings, our administration has given us the resources we need while also letting teachers drive the direction of the academy. 
  • I have had the chance to share my passions as a speaker at district PD day, something I never would have done on my own. 
  • I have the opportunity to attend CUE for the first time ever in 2018 because our school leadership values innovation. 
  • When I was honest about where I felt my strengths were as an educator (even though that meant letting a few people down) I've was met with nothing but support and love. 
  • And most importantly, I am continually inspired by the hard work, drive, passion, and dedication of so many of the teachers at our school. They are the ones you think of when you think of your ideal teacher: greeting students at the door with a smile, believing in our students when no one else can, giving hours before and after school to help our students succeed. 
I didn't really know what to name this post so I gave it three ridiculous names. I plan to be a little better at this blog thing in 2018. I know the negatives aren't going away but I am hoping I've learned to better manage their impact on my own classroom. I am hoping I can find ways to push past it and rise above it because it is silly to let one or two voices bring you down especially when I am so lucky to work at a school and district that as amazing as this one. 

So here is to 2017, a year where I struggled a lot but have learned so much. That seems to be how it always is though, the hardest struggles teach us the most.

How was your 2017?
Mrs. Kathryn Byars 


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