Justin Birckbichler is a fourth grade teacher in Stafford, Virginia and a Google for Education Certified Innovator. He is currently battling testicular cancer and has a strong prognosis of being 100% cured (not just in remission). You can follow his journey and help spread awareness at aballsysenseoftumor.com and read a longer version of this story at his educational blog at blog.justinbirckbichler.com. Connect with him directly via Twitter or email.
Although there have been countless other daily risks taken as it pertains to assessment reform and conversations had, the above were the most significant risks I took this year. Since I'm always looking to keep pushing forward, standing on the precipice of success and failure, has become a ledge I'm all too acquainted with. And failure does happen. And that's okay. With each unsuccessful risk comes an opportunity for reflection and continued growth.
Any change worth making take a fair effort of all stakeholders involved, so it is necessary for us to do our best to make sure the message is clear as to why and that lines of communication are open to answer questions that arise. Change is hard and it invokes fear in most people, so we must make sure we do what we can to ease that discomfort.
Remember the children we teach are "whole". We can't always cater to the academic at the peril of other aspects of who they are as people. Consider the social emotional well being of your students and let them reflect on learning already done and prepare for what is to come when they return.
More than learning about myself and others, was dispelling myths about certain ways of communicating and working on leaving judgment behind. It's important to see these styles as a given and once we know who we are and we are dealing with, we can more effectively collaborate.
The more comfortable I get in my new school, the luckier I feel to have such amazingly intelligent and caring people around me. Which colleagues are you most grateful for in your school building?
As teachers, our greatest lessons are truly found in what we do and what we give our students permission to do each day in and out of our classrooms - not in what we say or scribble in a plan book late on a Sunday night. In addition, our students often see their classmates through our lens and if Olivia's concern was important to me at that moment, it became even more important to her classmates.
Many students work hard when it comes to doing the things they connect with like playing a sport or learning a musical instrument; even gaming generates opportunities to persist. Candy Crush for example, says you "failed" when you don't complete a level, yet, we don't throw our hands up in the air and never return to the game. We keep playing until we pass and sometimes we even continue to play to surpass an earlier score. However, students don't connect these skills to their learning. We have to make it transparent.
Guest writer, Vivett Dukes shares her response as well as the responses of her students to the election. Read to hear some of her thoughts and consider how to move forward from here.
Living outside the box, has helped me engage countless students into a dance that encourages them out of their own comfort zones and into their own unique skins. First helping them take the labels off, and then placing their reflective glasses on.