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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teacher Diary: Three Ways to Wisdom

Three Ways to Wisdom
By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
Second, by imitation, which is easiest;
and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

We are quickly approaching the end of another school year. It is time to take stock of how the year went and what I can learn from it.
This year marks my 21st year as full time classroom teacher. At 46 years old, I figure I have another 15 or 20 years left in the profession. So realistically speaking, I am in the beginnings of the last half of my chosen career. This, alone, is a startling realization. Last year I wrote an exhaustive list of all my years of teaching and the accompanying professional development. I did this because I was applying to the Head of Middle School position at my independent school and I wanted to map out where I’ve been and what this journey has taught me. I was very impressed by my own list because it showed me to be the professional teacher I thought myself to be.
But inside that list was a secret: I was searching for “wisdom” through imitation. I was trying to be the teachers I respected instead a little too much. I wondered what I was bringing to the professional table other than the messages and notes of others.
I decided to withdraw from the Middle School Head search and refocus my energies to being the best possible teacher I can be. I can celebrate a couple of great events.
I published an original article in the NCTM publication Teaching Math in Middle School. The article: “How Many Piano Tuners in Our City”, was a retelling of my experiences leading my students through a series of Fermi questions. One such question, how much does the student body of our school weigh, has been a great hit at my school and I have used it on several occasions at school events.
Coming off the success I wrote a proposal to present at the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference in Washington DC. My proposal on Problems of the Week was accepted. I wrote about this experience in a previous post. 

I am very excited to continue down this professional growth opportunity in the years to come.

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