An outstanding teacher is…

I have spent the last two hours writing responses to job applications so my brain is absolutely fried on the creative side this evening. Although I would love to have more to give… the response to one of the essay questions will have to do. If anyone has any thoughts or suggestions… it isn’t yet submitted. I have one more response to write… job hunting is exhausting!

Describe the Skills or Attributes you believe are necessary to be an outstanding teacher:

I believe an outstanding teacher must possess a wide variety of skills and attributes in order to accommodate the academic, social, and emotional needs of all of their students. Teachers serve several roles for their students, each of those requiring specific abilities that need to be consistently present in the classroom.

First and foremost, an outstanding teacher must be effective; and a teacher is only as effective as their passion and excitement for teaching. An outstanding teacher expresses enthusiasm for content area instruction and works to ensure that all students are engaged and participating as active learners in the classroom. An outstanding teacher knows how to transfer their energy into their instruction, and cater to all students’ diverse learning styles; thereby ensuring that ALL students have the opportunity to engage in the learning process. When new information with passion and excitement, students want to learn.

Secondly, an outstanding teacher works to create a classroom community where all students are equally respected and valued for their unique contributions to the room. Positive relationships between both teacher and student are nurtured and mutual respect is displayed in daily interactions. An outstanding teacher is available for their students and is willing to invest in their energy into getting to know each of their students as individuals. When students know that their opinions are valued and respected, they are more likely to strive for excellence.

An outstanding teacher has a mastery of the content to be taught, uses assessment to drive instruction, and sets attainable goals; which are continually monitored through both formative and summative assessment. Material is presented through various modalities and with appropriate scaffolding so that the material is attainable for all levels of learners.

Finally, I believe that an outstanding teacher is realistic and flexible. Things do not always go the way they were planned; students misbehave, schedules are changed, the material is not engaging… there are many factors that can easily invoke stress and frustration into a teacher’s day. An outstanding teacher knows how and when to adapt, step away or completely abort planned activities. Adaptation does not mean failure and outstanding teachers know and understand this to be true.

As shown above, to be an outstanding teacher, there are a number of roles and skills that must be juggled during daily classroom instruction. When all of these attributes come together, ALL students are given the opportunity to succeed and ultimately, an outstanding teacher is born.

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Passion (day 4)

 

Anger drove my effort

propelling me through the stretching and warmups,

giving me an energy that even I didn’t know I possessed.

Every daisy chain lap we repeated

added fuel to my fire of hatred

burning against both the coach and the sport of running itself.

 

After what seemed like an eternity,

warmups ended.

 

Searching out the eyes of the other five,

it was plain to see

we all knew what was next…

 

the determination of our fate and destiny.

 

We once again joined up and slowly made our way over to the bench.

“Girls. Do you know why you are here?”

All of us refused to meet his eyes,

knowing that any connection

meant that he had power over us.

Inside I clenched everything I could clench

and willed myself not to cry.

“Jenny? Why are you here today?”

What? He was now asking me a personal question?!?

Who does he think he is?

I couldn’t even answer that question for myself,

let alone to a man that I hated with every fiber of my being.

So I stood

and waited

and waited.

I assumed that he would move on

but instead,

I heard him ask again

“Jenny. Why are you here today? Rachel, why are you here?

April?”

We all stood in silence. A team within a team.

Standing in solidarity

and refusing to break.

Time passed by

and still we stood.

 

Finally, just as I thought my legs were going to give out underneath me

from being locked in place for so long,

his gruff voice spoke again.

But something was different.

There was something softer,

something that made me

momentarily step out of defense mode

and catch his piercing brown eyes taking each of us in.

For fear of him noticing my gaze,

I quickly fixed my eyes back on the cinders below my feet

 

 

After a deep inhale of breath,

his words began to break the silence,

and what he said in the next few minutes

was the beginning of my love story.

Not with the coach

but with the sport of running.

 

“Girls. I know that right now, you are angry.

You are frustrated.

Embarrassed.

Ready to quit.

Many, if not all of you, have never ran track before.

You came out to see what it was all about

but then life got in the way.

School ended, time passed faster than expected

and you didn’t make it out the door on time.

You were late.

But…

you already knew that.

That isn’t why you are standing here right now.

You are standing here because,

even though life got in the way

you still came. You could have chosen to stay in the locker room.

You could have chosen to call your parents to pick you up.

But you didn’t.

Each of you made the decision to push onward

and finish what you hadn’t even yet begun.

That takes strength

and courage

and that is the reason you are standing here right now.

Today, each of you showed your character,

you showed me that you don’t believe in giving up.”
The feet around me began to shuffle and before I knew it,

I was looking up

and caught his eye.

I couldn’t help myself,

it was almost as if he had heard all of my inner struggles

and yet affirmed me for the agonizing decision I had to make

not even an hour in the past.

Slowly, I felt a tear well up in my eye

and slowly trickle down my cheek

but this time

I was’t ashamed.

I knew that tear symbolized all the effort

it had taken to get me out to that very spot

and I realized that somehow

he knew it as well.

 

I don’t remember the rest of what coach said at that point

except that he chose the six of us

to lead the team.

We were made captains,

a group of nobodies,

of stragglers

that really had no business being out on the track that day.

Coach saw through that and affirmed in us

abilities that none of us would have ever discovered on our own.

 

Although it wasn’t always easy (I never understood the necessity of a mile warmup!)

I grew to love track that year.

Running became my outlet,

and even when I didn’t place at a meet

I knew that there was always

at least one person believing in me.

 

Every time I began to doubt my abilities

or my worthiness to the team,

I would replay his words in my head.

If he believed in me,

I owed it to him to at least try to believe in myself.

He gave me a purpose,

and through his leadership,

a lifelong passion of mine was born

giving me an identity which I still carry today;

I am a runner

and I really and truly

owe it all to him.

 

Passion… cont’d (day 3)

 

As the chilly early spring breeze

cut right through my thin long sleeve shirt,

I pondered turning around and walking back into the locker room.

The coach already hated me

I was a member of “that’ group of girls

(of which I was sure they didn’t want me to be a part)

and practice hadn’t yet officially begun.

 

Just as my mind was made up to cut my losses early on

roll call was over and our warmup assignment was given-

thereby squelching any opportunity for escape.

 

“1 mile loop and then back to the track for stretching” coach bellowed out.

As his word hit my ears, they were quickly drowned out

by the thudding of my heart and my own inner voice.

“1 mile? He seriously wanted us to run 1 mile just as a warmup?!?

I had never even run more than 1/4 of a mile…

There was NO way I could run a mile 

especially as just a warmup! I had signed up to run sprints…

and 1 mile was WAY past the distance of which I believed sprinters should ever have to run!

What was I doing out here anyways?”

 

Looking around, I realized that I was not the only person feeling aghast about the assignment.

Soon, the six of us stragglers, plus a few new additions teamed up and started off

on the ridiculous warmup mile

together.

 

As we ran, we began to talk

and I quickly realized that I was not the only person feeling out of place

but that in reality,

none of the 10 of us really knew or understood why we were there.

Most importantly,

we all equally hated the coach

at that very moment…

sort of a united front

which began the process

of us being tightly knit together.

 

We took our time on our run,

splashing through puddles and working to catch our breath

as we ran up the giant Riverside hill.

As we all ran, awkwardly Jr. High in stature

and completely out of shape,

we all believed that

at any moment, anyone in our group

could drop dead from lack of oxygen.

Even through the excruciating pain,

that 1 mile warm up run

was the first glimmer of hope

in what had been a terribly gloomy day.

 

 

Eventually, the ten of us made our way back to the school

and slipped into the warmup lines

as inconspicuously as possible.

As we began to stretch, the sun began to peek out from behind a cloud,

offering a rare bit of respite

from the brisk wind that was whisking away any sweat

that we had conjured up on our initial run.

I leaned back and allowed the warmth

to envelop my body and provide me a comfort

that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

 

“Katie, Sarah, Jenny, April, Rachel, Elizabeth”

The gruff voice calling out my name snapped me out of my momentary peace

as my reality at hand was once again made evident.

“Before you head off to your events, come see me in the stands”

The warmth I felt on my face  was no longer from the rays of the sun

but instead,

it grew from a place deep within

that was burning with hatred at the man I was to call ‘coach’.

 

*Cont’d tomorrow

 

 

 

 

Passion cont’d…

Slowly, the hum of voices and slamming locker doors

began to diminish.

 

While I appreciated the silence,

I realized that if I didn’t quicken my pace,

I would be the last one out the door

and have all eyes on me

as I walked alone into practice.

 

With a deep breath and new resolve

I quickly threw on my clothes, laced up my new shoes

and pulled my hair back into a ponytail

as I tried to catch up with the last group of girls

walking out of the room.

 

As we made our way over to the team,

I realized that we were already running late

and roll call had begun.

“Jenny Coffman? Jenny?”

“Does anyone know Jenny or if she still plans to join?”

I saw heads start to turn to search the crowd of girls

and my heart dropped into my stomach.

I already knew I didn’t belong out here

and now

I was drawing attention to myself

even before practice had begun.

I picked up my pace and tried to answer

“here” to signal my entry

but all that escaped was an almost inaudible whisper.

“Jenny?”

Realizing that my voice wasn’t heard over the chattering of students,

I waved my arm to signal to the coach that I was indeed present

and ready to join the team,

but instead of checking off my name

and moving along with attendance,

My presence was acknowledged with a stern admonition;

signaling out myself and the five other girls I had

walked up with.

 

“You six. See me after warmups”

Words that made all of the teenage chatter halt

and turn every pair of eyes on our small group

as if we had just entered the room without wearing any clothing.

As my face began to burn

and I diverted my eyes to the ground,

someone bravely spoke up,

 

and answered with a simple

“yes sir”

to which we all accepted and nodded in solidarity.

 

*To be continued

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring

This morning, as the sun’s rays began to peek over the horizon,  I awoke to the beautiful melody of birds singing their jubilant springtime song. As I listened to their chorus, it was almost as if they were welcoming me to the beginning of a new day. The music and golden hue that cast itself through my window filled me with a sense of hopefulness and an energy I haven’t possessed in quite some time. It was as if the the new day’s dawning awoke a piece of myself that had been in hibernation the last few months. Today, those cobwebs were brushed away, and I was once again filled with hope and wonder, and a fresh, new outlook on life.

 

 

6 Word Stories…

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I love the idea of 6 word stories. This style of writing is believed to have been invented by Ernest Hemingway whose famous 6 word tale “For sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.” is credited as the first 6 word story. These simple words have now inspired millions of writers… myself included. For today’s writing piece, I decided to give this style a try.

This is Me

*Long. My day. In a nutshell.

*Mother of three. Wife of one.

*Surfing the internet. How I procrastinate.

*Tim, Micah, Addie, Silas. My life.

*Teacher, dreamer, God believer. I am.

 

and… my attempt at being insightful

*Lost in a book. Found myself.

*Education is freedom. Or is it?

*Is faith believing? Or believing, faith?