My family is Christmas crazy. As my wife and I put our Christmas decorations up this weekend I got to thinking about the stars on top of the tree. The Christmas tree topper is the part of the tree that is in a position of prominence, and many times gets noticed first. It automatically attracts your attention. In our house we have one star, an angel, a cross, a light-up moose head, Luke Skywalker, a name ornament, Drew Brees, a Veggies Tales ornament as tree toppers and one tree has nothing on top. (Yes, we have that many trees.)
Having lots of time to think while putting up all those trees, I got to thinking about my “teacher star.” What is the one thing I work hardest at and gets noticed first? What is my attention grabber? What should it be? There are so many options. I do not believe there is one right answer. I want to explore some options and would love to hear from you what your star is.
Is it about me and becoming the best teacher I can? By working hard at becoming the best teacher I can be the students I serve get help in many areas. I network, I learn new techniques, and I attain more tricks in my bag. The ultimate goal of all of these is to help more students. One student may thrive in doing a project on Glogster, while another may still need the comfort of “the poster.” The more I know as a teacher the more opportunities for growth I can provide for my students. Becoming a better teacher involves so much growth in so many areas, that it can’t help but benefit the students.
Maybe I should focus on being the best lesson planner and have that be my star. Students need opportunities to thrive, but they also need to be engaged when it is learning time. If I have one presentation style I am probably not providing learning opportunities for more than half of the class. Teachers who vary lesson presentation, let students teach sometimes, bring in experts, and present in a wide variety of ways, help their students so much more and prepare them for the eclectic nature of LIFE.
Assessment! That’s it. I should become the best teacher at using assessment to help students. I will use every test, every assignment as a tool for personal growth for each student. They will reflect, they will re-learn, they will grow!
Is it classroom climate? Maybe I'll strive to be the teacher who is know for having the best run classroom. Students who are happy learn better, I’ve heard that before. If I become the master of classroom management won’t that allow for all my students to learn at their own pace and in their own way?
So finally I think maybe my star should be I want to ‘produce’ the best students I can. This seemed like the obvious answer at first, but then when I tried to wrap my thoughts around what exactly it means, it was too big a concept. By helping students become the best they can be, I need to be incorporating the strategies listed above and so many more.
So in the end, I think of it this way – what do I want students to say about me when they are gone? (Having moved on to the next grade level or next stage of their life) “He helped me learn.” “He challenged me.” “He believed in me.” “He taught me to think to think for myself.” Those are the kind of statements I want on my “star.” (On a 5 point star I get one more too!)
What do you want your star to be? Comments welcome, appreciated and used to help me with my star.