How many teachers, especially those new to the profession, are given the teacher's manual and told to follow it to the letter? Or perhaps he or she is given lesson plans or standards or other curriculum written by someone else. I know that when I was a newbie I followed the prescribed curriculum; it was sort of a security blanket for me. So much was new: students, colleagues, curriculum, procedures, etc. it was comforting to have one thing that was predictable and stalwart. But then things changed as I got my feet wet, so to speak, and began to hone my own instincts for what worked and what, most assuredly, did not work. Soon, I was going rogue: I was a writing project fellow; I took courses in computers in the classroom, I got an NSF grant to take a graduate geology class. And I went back to school to work on more degrees as I knew I did not have all the answers.
I still do not have all the answers and continually reach out to my smart colleagues for information. I have a PLN that is incredibly rich and supportive and encouraging and rewarding. And that is what we need to do for these new teachers, the ones who could use a shot of courage (and not the liquid kind though there are days...). Several months ago, Sophie Brookover and I put together a "Starter pack" of Twitter folks for new librarians. Do we have one of those for new teachers I wonder? If not, can we work on that? Can we find other ways to pass along a little of the courage and wisdom we possess?
To close on this glorious Saturday which I will spend meeting some looming deadlines (though I hope for some porch time for reading, too), let me close with one of my convictions:
I KNOW what works and what does not work with my students. I am there in the room (even in an online forum) with them. I see when an approach is successful and when it fails. I can tell when a text connects and when it does not. I realize immediately if the task I am requesting of students is beyond them developmentally. And I understand how best to teach my own class.
Happy weekend, folks. Heading to NYC next week for KidLitCon! Getting ready for Cybills nominations to open. Beginning to prepare for NCTE. It's going to be a terrific autumn!