I love how moving forward often necessitates looking back and reflecting on where you’ve been and how you’ve changed over time. Today was great because I did a lot of that!
First, I went to school and worked on streamlining my paper documents & files. By the end of the process, I went from 8 accordion files & 3 large 3-ring binders full of paper to just 2 files & 2 binders. Progress!! It’s wonderful that teachers can now maintain the majority of our materials electronically and drastically minimize our need to store & waste paper.
Now, if we could only find a cost-effective way of moving this “paperless” trend into our day-to-day instruction as well, so that we could stop making so many photocopies! Our overuse of paper is probably partly to blame on our tendency as teachers to cling to antiquated 20th-century teaching methods (worksheets! worksheets! worksheets!) However, I also believe that we use so much paper because, to some extent, we’re forced to remain in that 20th-century paradigm of creating & making worksheets for students to introduce & practice new concepts until we have technology to replace those methods; technology that is available to ALL students, every day. And, to be honest, the only way I see that ever happening is to adopt a 1:1 laptop initiative and such an adoption is likely to remain prohibitively expensive for many school districts for many, many years yet.
Baby steps – I have to remind myself that progress is progress, no matter how small.
After going through my paper files, I spent some time looking through my personnel file & adding documents to demonstrate my communication with parents as well as appreciative thank you notes & cards from parents & students alike. It was fun to read through some of the documents I’ve sent over the past 3 years and see my growth in the area of parent communication over that time, as well as to remember a few of my super sweet students from that first year teaching and re-read their encouraging thank you notes from the end of the year.
One article I read about when I began teaching suggested keeping a file full of these items, as well as samples of student work that make you smile, and have that be the first thing you open up each year when you set up your classroom to put you into the right mindset. I’ve taken to doing this and that file never fails to bring a smile to my face. I even have started an electronic file since those kind messages (along with some not-so-kind ones) come more and more via email these days!
And so you see I’ve come full-circle. Well, I’m already on summer time, I can tell, because it’s 11 PM and I’m not only awake, but blogging! Gasp! (I’m usually one to turn in around 9 or 10 during the school year). I better get some sleep for my trip to IKEA tomorrow! Stay tuned to hear about my finds!!