We often hear teachers say that ‘teaching is very rewarding’. But what do they mean? What are the ‘rewards’? And more importantly, how are they reaped? Well, as the saying goes: “what you put in, is what you get out”. Therefore, the more you put into teaching, the more rewards you get out. It seems logical then, to surmise that you won’t be reaping any rewards if you have put very little in to begin with. It’s not really rocket science, is it?
What is a science, though (as well as an ‘art’ if you ponder it), is knowing exactly what you have to put into teaching, in order to reap the ‘rewards’ some teachers speak of. Elena Aguilar’s recent reflective blog post, Teachers: Preparing for your best year ever provides us with some insights on the subject. “When I think about the “best year” I ever had as a teacher, it was the one in which I learned the most, enjoyed my work the most, and made deep connections with students, parents, and colleagues. During that year, my students also learned a tremendous amount, they reported loving school, and they made deep connections with each other and with other adults.”
She writes about teachers diving into their professional learning by actively seeking out professional development opportunities, and becoming immersed in their own learning. Professional development is not only about attending courses and workshops, but it is also about reading widely and researching trends and ideas. Challenge and stretch yourself to try things differently. It may be new teaching techniques or methods and approaches, or finding out more about a specialty area you are interested in, or learning more about a particular curriculum area or trying out a different curriculum approach. It may even be challenging yourself to find the time to do more professional reading on an area you are interested in!
Besides engaging in a whole centre self-review focus, why not take the initiative and conduct your own self-review, action research or inquiry to improve and enhance your own practice? Elena tells us that when she conducted her own inquiry she learned so much about her students and what they needed in order to learn : “I found ways to quickly meet those needs and seeing my practice change and my students learn, was thrilling.” In teaching, this outcome is surely one of the rewards we seek as teachers?
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