The last week has been tremendously reflective for me. For the last five years, I have been part of the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) teaching fellowship program. This program has helped me learn, grow, reflect, and become the teacher I am today. In a way, the last week was a goodbye to all the amazing people and learning I have done for 5 years.
This last week wasn’t just about reflecting and enjoying one last time with the amazing 29 educators in my cohort. We also did some serious work, and I want to share my takeaways from that meeting with explanations where needed.
KSTF Summer Takeaways: A Top 10
- All stories are important and sharing honest truths is critical to growth
- As our last cohort debrief we did a protocol 6 words, 1 word. In this protocol we went around a circle and shared 6 words that represent where we are now in our teaching practice. Then we repeated the process with one word. It was such a powerful experience to hear my cohort share the truths of their lives (good, bad, and ugly).
- Grouping students in ways that allow them to be involved increases ownership.
- I attended an amazing session by Sarah DiMaria (@MsDiMaria) where she shared her grouping strategy. She runs a mock draft where students complete blind resumes and other students draft each other based on skills needed to make the perfect team. I am so excited how this can allow groups to be the most balanced since drafts are made on skills alone & at the same time gives kids ownership over their group.
- Finding alone time is integral to my ability to be present when I am with others.
- This truth is much more personal. As I get older, I am discovering I am becoming more and more introverted. When I am in situations where I have to constantly around people, I find that if I don’t take 15 minutes during the day to truly be alone –no electronics to digitally engage, I will end up checking out in the middle of conversations I want to be having. I think I just need those few precious minutes to help me recharge to be fully present later.
- Leadership is messy and undefinable, but the struggles being shared empower others.
- As part of the 5th year of the fellowship, we explored teacher leadership & told our story of the experience to younger fellows. From our debrief following and reflecting on my experience of being a younger fellow, we came to the conclusion that stories that aren’t neatly tied up at the end are more powerful because it allows others to connect in unique ways.
- It is not belittling to treat adults like students. I am a good teacher so those skills can and should translate to facilitating adults.
- For a while now, I have struggled when leading workshops & meetings about how to best facilitate. I want to make meaningful space for the people I work with, but I am always concerned that if I treat them too much like my students they will feel disrespected. From leading a workshop this summer & participating in debriefing that with my coach, I have discovered that those skills do translate and it isn’t wrong to use my teacher moves with adults.
- The super teacher narrative is frustrating, and it is important to be humble in success.
- As part of every summer, we read a book and invite the author to speak at summer meeting. This year we read Mission High and instead of having the author attend, they invited the teachers the book was about. It was powerful to see these teachers, who are portrayed as superheros in the book, share their weaknesses and struggles in the profession.
- The fellowship is what you make it, and I have truly loved my experience.
- I need to step back from KSTF (physically) and it is ok to take gap time.
- Equity in my school is critical to me and I want kids to feel valued in all classes.
- As we wrapped up the year, we began to explore what changes we want to see in any aspect of education or our life. To do that I made a concept map. In it I explored all sorts of aspects of my practice & life. From this experience, I saw that equity of all students in my classroom and my school is important to me–I am not surprised. I have not decided where I want to go with this yet, but I plan to find allies in my school to help me do something about inequities I see.
- These people and this organization has impacted me in ways I struggle to articulate, but I am a better human because of it.
The 2011 Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Teaching Fellows.