Center for Inspired Teaching welcomed 22 new individuals this summer into our Inspired Teacher Certification Program, a two-year program that prepares, supports, and certifies highly qualified individuals to become teachers in DC. These Inspired Teaching Fellows begin their teaching career with a 12-month residency, working under the guidance of a Lead Teacher (at the Inspired Teaching Demonstration School or Capital City Public Charter School) to gain the knowledge and experience necessary to transition in their second year to becoming teachers of record in their own DC public school classrooms. This piece was written by a 2012 Inspired Teaching Fellow teaching 5th grade.
At a recent Inspired Teaching math training, our instructor asked us to create a personal “weather report”. We had to fold a piece of construction paper into four sections and write or illustrate how the past four days had gone. I had no trouble remembering what happened that day; likewise with the previous one. But I couldn’t remember much of anything from the first two days of that week. The same was true for most everyone in the class.
This got me thinking about my own reflective process, which has not been what I’d like it to be. This is not to say that I’m not a reflective person. I spend a good deal of time thinking about and reflecting on things as they happen throughout the day. I take observation notes in the various classrooms where I spend time each day. But I don’t have a real system.
This reminded me of something I’d read in the Introduction of Teaching with Intention. I pulled my copy off the shelf to see exactly what author Debbie Miller had written:
“I think it’s challenging to find time in the day for reflection–it may feel like just one more thing to add to the list that never seems to end. And yet if we don’t, where does that leave us?”
Miller’s musings, plus my Inspired Teaching instructor’s assignment, have really got me moving toward establishing a more formal system of reflecting. It’s weird, because from the time I was about 15 until 35, I was an avid and dedicated journal keeper. I’d write pages and pages, mostly about my teen, then young adult, then more adult, angst and problems.
The past few years, I’ve still been pretty faithful about writing every night, but it has been reduced to a few sentence summary of my day. The method I use now is a five-year journal, where you write about four lines for each day, and the entries are sequential by year. I’m on year three now, so I’m able to look back and see what I was doing and feeling this time two and three years ago.
I decided to use a similar method as a Teaching Fellow and teacher. I think it will be really cool to look back in a few years as a more experienced teacher and see what’s changed since I was an Inspired Teaching Fellow.
I remembered something else from Miller’s thoughts on reflections: If we expect our students to be “thoughtful, reflective, and strategic readers, writers, and thinkers,” we need to follow the same practice as teachers.