By nature I am a pretty conservative person. I intentionally work to push myself outside of what I think is my comfort zone(hello, I did a Polar Plunge over the weekend). There have been two things that have pushed me out of my comfort zone as an educator that I would not trade for anything and I want to share them with you today.
- Co-Teaching: This year was probably one of my best years of teaching ever. It was also the most challenging. The most frustrating. The most eye-opening. The most rewarding. We were positioned one year with the ability to have a co-taught classroom with myself and my friend who is a special educator. It was the first time that I had to share my space with another adult. We managed to make it work, had a few hiccups and collisions along the way. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I saw first hand differentiation at its finest. I saw and truly understood how not all students learn the same. I learned that it is okay to try 1,000 ways to get there and it is okay to take the time if you need it. I knew all of these things, but you never fully understand it until you feel it in action. This class of students grew so much that year. Some of them even looped to the next grade with us. We grew together. I will always treasure that.
- What I Do Now: There are so many layers to this work that I cannot even begin to express it. It is so much different from the work of a classroom teacher, not harder work, just different. I never would have thought that having a small group of 4 or 5 students over a 30 minute time span would challenge me so much as an educator. That 30 minute time block is precious time. Precious to me, and precious to the learner. The things that you realize about learners as individuals that likely would blend easily in the bigger pond, are vulnerable and out there in the open. I am blown away on a daily basis that these kids ask me about words. Things that I might have assumed that they understood in a larger classroom setting, are revealed in these small groups. And they are comfortable letting you know what they don’t know and understand. Plus we form some pretty awesome relationships along the way.
What pushes you out of your comfort zone?