An EL Teacher’s Perspective on Self (& Professional) Improvement
When we pour into ourselves, those around us benefit. This is why becoming the BEST version of yourself is an investment for not only YOU but all of those around you. Our students, families and colleagues deserve the best from us and so do we.
These ideas led me to think about how I will deliberately improve myself for the sake of the English learners, families, and colleagues I work with and here is my plan. I’m nudging you to think about your intentions also. What will you do in 2023?
Traditionally people make resolutions at the start of each new year. That’s not exactly what I’m doing or proposing. And more recently, it’s become popular to select a word for the upcoming year. I kinda like the idea behind the word. I tried it for a few years myself.
What I’ve done below is sat down and pushed myself to reflect on the past and thought forward about deliberate ways to improve mentally, physically, and professionally. I encourage you to do the same. The simple act of putting this in writing was powerful for me and I believe it will be for you as well. Thinking about it all is one thing, but writing it down is another.
Connection-Dr. Brene Brown famously says that “we are all hardwired for connection, and without it there is suffering.” These words have stuck with me since I first read them. Maybe because I have felt the pain of lacking connection. I have endured the feeling of wanting to belong and I want terribly to create spaces where all learners, families and colleagues feel connected. This year, I plan to continue creating spaces where teachers of ELs connect and feel a sense of belonging.
Collaboration-Working with others for the sake on English learners has a greater impact on their success than working alone. ELs deserve the best! They deserve high quality instruction and I know that I don’t know it all. But together with colleagues, we have more collective knowledge and expertise than none of us has independently. I plan to be deliberate about collaborative practices, pulling in more minds to think through ideas and to learn from new perspectives.
Growth-My Baba Vera (grandmother) who only had a 4th grade education of no fault of her own always taught me that we are never too old to continue learning. She inspired curiosity in me and showed me that the world is our curriculum if we stop and listen. This year I am finally going to start a doctoral program. This has been a dream of mine for a long time but I have made excuses about the timing. I have said it was not a good time because I didn’t have the money or because both my kids were in college, or I just think I’m too old. Not any more. Here goes!
Focus-When the time comes to put my mind in action, focus is essential. No distractions allowed. Focusing on what the goal is, who the important people are, and why we do what we do. Distractions like social media, text messages, phone calls, emails, etc. must be set aside for later.
Align-It’s easy to be distracted by cute activities and resources, but alignment helps keep students’ progress towards academic and linguistic success at the forefront. Aligning core beliefs with lesson plans, materials, activities, books, resources, etc. is essential. If the resource or activity doesn’t align with the core belief, curriculum or academic/linguistic goal, then it may not be worth the time or money.
Balance-A work/life balance helps everyone mentally and physically. If I overwork myself, I can’t provide the best for those around me. Balancing work and social life is important for a wholehearted life. I will dedicate 100% to my work when it’s time for that and 100% to my family and self when I’m not working.
Rest-Yes, rest. Real rest. The time to rest and relax helps to refuel the mind and body. We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” This one is challenging for me and likely many of you reading this too. But rest is crucial for our bodies. It literally frees up creative and cognitive space. So we must give ourselves time to breathe, let our shoulders down, and just be.
Peace-The idea of peace may not be commonly thought of in educational settings, but let's go there. I’m going to be intentional this year about my peace of mind and the peaceful aura I evoke through the work I do with students, families, and colleagues. I believe that the way we respond (especially when it’s with peace) can make difficult times less challenging.
Hope-My hope is going to escalate this year. It’s sky high! The bar has never been higher. I’m lifting every barrier that might have been there before and delivering a large dose of hope backed with tons of support and love.
As educators, we touch the lives of hundreds of students, colleagues, and family members. Don’t ever underestimate the power of your own impact on others.
2023 is going to be magical because I claim it to be!
Now it’s your turn. How will you make 2023 the best year yet?