365 Days Ago

Every now and again I like to look back. I look back reflecting on how far things have come, what has changed and what hasn’t. August 13, 2015 was a HUGE day personally and professionally.

Personally-I got an an offer and agreed on a selling price for my first home. This was a home I bought with what I had when I really needed a place. I fixed it up bit by bit as I could afford to. I thought I was going to live there forever until we found our current home. We sold it to friends, in fact the first people we told that we were selling it. While I miss the house, location, neighbors and garden, I know it is in good hands.

Professionally-Less than an hour after the house negotiations began, I learned  I was a state finalist for the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. It was completely unexpected.

To be honest, I submitted my application simply to solicit feedback on the lesson. It was a lesson I’ve worked on developing for the past seven years. A lesson both my principals had observed and provided feedback on. I was seeking critical content specific feedback, something I never get. I wanted tips to help me strengthen the strategies I was using to convey this material to students.

My writing of the application was anything but ideal. The lesson was recorded on a Tuesday and needed to be submitted by the following Monday. Wednesday I flew to Denver for a conference. I knew the plane time from Baltimore to Denver was the time I was going to have. And so I focused. Shockingly, by the time we were over Colorado I had finished the entry. The people to each side of me were not amused by the excitement that finish gave me.

Thursday I woke up and reviewed it. Again on Friday. Minor edits. Usually for something of this caliber I would share and solicit other feedback. That wasn’t an easy option this time. I slept in the Baltimore airport Friday night, chaperoned post-prom Saturday night. Sunday evening were my last looks. I reminded myself that I was simply soliciting feedback. No need to stress.

Finding out I was one of five state finalists had broader implications than I was expecting. For one of the first times in my teaching career I felt as though the work I did within my classroom was accepted and validated. That gave me confidence when presenting, guiding discussions, and providing solutions.

It also helped me recognize that my colleagues are a key contributor to success. I work with many awesome educators. I slowly became more vocal, asking questions and encouraging others. I’m not sure I needed to be validated to do this. I continually wonder why I didn’t begin learning about what my colleagues are doing years ago.

Lastly that little trinket facilitated meetings with legislators at the federal and state levels. I had begun by sending emails without it and didn’t get anywhere. Once included I had set up all my meetings in 24 hours. Maybe that was a coincidence.

While I am thankful for the process I’ve been able to make because of the PAEMST State Finalist accolade, my goal has become to help those who don’t have the trinket to get in the door too. As educators, all our voices matter. They paint the broader picture so that as legislators are discussion bills they can accurately speak to what is happening.

Needless to say, here I sit on August 13th, 2016. A new home. New chickens. Same love of life, cares and concerns about education in our rural town. Still no feedback on my lesson. Maybe in time.

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