As another school year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey my family and I have undertaken here in the first year at our new school, in a new country.
It hasn’t been the smoothest ride: lots of new personalities and practices to get used to, lot’s of local political upheaval to contend with, and lots of cultural differences to be aware of. Nevertheless, it’s astonishing how fast time has flown by, and I am grateful for the challenges that have shaped my experience so far. In this post, I would like to share some of my reflections on this transformative year and highlight the important lessons I have learned along the way.
Blog Stats Revelation:
I’ve been posting to this blog for years because I felt that my wisdom and experiences were worth sharing to my professional learning community. Perhaps some visitors enjoyed my thoughts and musings, but a close study of my traffic this year revealed that most of the traffic is here for lesson resources. This knowledge will inform my posting moving forward.
Integration of ChatGPT:
One of the unique challenges I faced this year was figuring out how best to integrate ChatGPT into my classroom. I’m not saying that I’ve figured it all out. In fact, I’m still scratching the surface with this new teaching tool. But, I am glad I haven’t just reacted to ChatGPT in a negative/knee jerk manner and blocked it. Instead, I am actively looking at ways to use this technology to help me enhance student engagement and encourage critical thinking.
Importance of Social Emotional Learning:
No matter where we work, supporting students’ social emotional learning has been a vital aspect of our practice. This year has reinforced the significance of addressing the emotional well-being of my students. Our new school does not yet have an Advisory program and, as a result, there were a lot of kids in need of help and support. By creating a safe and inclusive classroom environment, I witnessed students flourish not only academically but also in their personal growth. I look forward to helping to build an effective Advisory program here and making even more of a positive impact in the lives of my students.
Building Strong Relationships:
For years, building strong relationships with colleagues has been instrumental in my professional growth. This year, at a new school and with new coworkers, I’ve had to start at square one. I didn’t know too many of my peers and, with COVID lockdowns recently ended and a return to classroom instruction, there wasn’t a super strong sense of collegiality/community. Right away I did my best to build trust and relationships by hosting and attending social events outside of school, while at school I popped into classrooms, shared ideas and resources, and made myself available to just listen and be there for my peers. These steps, along with the contributions of my like-minded colleagues, have created a supportive network that enhances our collective teaching effectiveness.
Clarity of Instruction:
Effective communication and clarity of instruction have been pillars of my teaching philosophy. This year, I focused on refining my instructional practices, ensuring that my lessons were engaging, structured, and aligned with learning objectives. In addition, to support these efforts, I returned to my roots by bringing some fun back into my practice: we had a school-wide treasure hunt, created messages-in-bottles, and wrapped up students as mummies. Clarity is cool and important, but if kids aren’t having fun while they learn, then we are doing it wrong.
As I wrap up my first year at this new school, I am filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment. The challenges I encountered have helped me grow both personally and professionally. I am reminded that no matter where we work, there will always be important areas to focus on, such as student social emotional learning, building strong relationships with colleagues, and maintaining clarity of instruction. I look forward to building upon these foundations in the years to come, continuing to provide an enriching educational experience for my students.
Remember, every year brings new opportunities for growth, and as educators, we play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our students. Let us embrace the lessons learned, celebrate our achievements, and approach the upcoming year with enthusiasm and a commitment to excellence.
Thank you for joining me on this reflective journey. Here’s to a successful year and an even brighter future!