19 years in Education and Still "Green"
Although being green can connote ignorance, I see it as early growth potential. When something is green it is alive and eager to take from its environment to grow.
Seasoned, although can mean experienced which is equally as good, can also mean ripened to the point of almost rotten.
It was suggested to me the other day that it was in every teacher's best interest to stay "green" throughout his/her career, that way he/she can continue to grow.
If not, the stagnation can ultimately wreck potential, especially when the more experienced think they know all they need to know to be successful.
Growth has been the hallmark of my career; the constant ever-changing moments. In fact, the only reliable constant is the change and the progress that comes from it.
As I'm looking ahead to my 20th year, I realize how green I truly am. There are many changes this year that will surely happen which will try my patience and test my experience.
But I thrive on it.
As our students and education shift with the times, so must our practices. Although some of our content may not change, the way we look at it should. As an English teacher, I'm always reconsidering what novels we share and in what ways we consider them.
Additionally, given the changes in the world since the pandemic, educators of all kinds and of all age groups, need to consider what and how they decide to teach and to what end. Clarity has never been more important and partnerships with the community and other educators make a huge difference. Since I'm not in the classroom anymore, my new role mandates that I learn what teachers of all content areas need and find the best way to support them.
Social studies teachers need to consider the new context of the events that have happened. Where can cycles of history be felt today and where will students recognize and connect with them in their own lives?
Science teachers are constantly having to readjust because new research yields new information that needs to be adding in or taken out of the curriculum so that students aren't learning antiquated information.
Language teachers also have the challenge of evolutionary living communication and appropriate and relevant ways to bring that communication to life.
Physical education is no longer just about sports, but whole-body understanding and betterment. Research has also impacted the way we learn to be healthy.
Math teachers have the job of making some learning that seems irrelevant matter to students in a way that they invest in the learning.
Here are some ways to stay green even as we grow in education:
Continue to do professional reading as new information comes out - not just in your field but in pedagogical practices too. If books aren't your thing, there are amazing blogs out there that are short reads and can offer great resources.
Listen to podcasts when you get a chance - if reading isn't your thing, there are educational podcasts like the NerdyCast or Talks with Teachers or Cult of Pedagogy
Get into your colleagues' classrooms and observe. I've learned so many things from people I work with - especially those folks not in my content area.
Network with folks outside of school and collaborate to generate relationships to benefit students
Get to an edcamp or another conference to see what's happening in your particular field right now
Get onto Twitter or other social media applications that will bring other leaders into focus
Ask for help, no matter how much experience you have, you can always get better.
Take risks. Try new things regularly and make sure to reflect on those experiences.
Know the climate you work in and navigate it appropriately for that time.
How do you stay fresh in education? Please share
Originally this post ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in August 2015; it has been modified.