I cannot believe how blessed I am to have a small core group of math majors here at the U of R. For the majority of us, we’ve known each other since first year, and taken EMTH (math major classes) together since second year. We’ve gain a few wonderful people along the way, but on the whole, we’ve remained a united core group.
Teaching has evolved to be a profession of sharing, communication, and collegial relationships. Getting to know other educators, whether its in the staff room, via twitter, or in an education class, is professional development at its finest. I’m so lucky to be learning with a group of marvelous minds. We have the freedom to bounce ideas off one another, laugh about the number of coffees required to complete a project, and collaborate on our work. This environment has definitely been the biggest and most positive influence on my education so far. No textbook or class can make up for the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in the last four years.
A funny thing happened last week: I had a huge mind shift over reading week. Initially when I got back to school after my internship, I was so antsy to get back into the classroom. I was completely unmotivated to work at all. I had no desire to work for the extra mile. I thought that the last semester was going to be a real downer. I don’t know exactly what cause the mental change, but I think a combination of attending WestCAST, alone time to be with my thoughts, building my twitter network, blogging more often, reading more blogs, reflecting for a lot of classes, spending time with non-education friends, and spending time with education friends lead to my mind-shift.
I want to learn. I want my students to learn. I want to be a better teacher. I’m not done learning how to be a better teacher. Learning to teach doesn’t just happen on the job. I have 14 fantastic resources every day at EMTH (13 peers and my professor), and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.
I came back from WestCAST absolutely jazzed about teaching. It’s not that I necessarily learned about a ground breaking teaching methods or some miracle classroom management technique. I learned about a lot of things, most of which were building on ideas I’d been pondering for a while now. However, I started to digest all of the ideas and concepts I ran into and decided to become my own teacher–I want to be the best for my students and for myself.
I could get into a whole other can of worms here with regards to assessment and evaluation, but I won’t. I will comment that this year, grades really aren’t important to me. This year, I want to learn because I can, not because I have to in order to keep up my average.
I know this epiphany wouldn’t have happened if I were just taking courses and not interacting with my core group of math majors. I can absolutely thank (or blame…) them for my epiphany and all my learning to date. EMTH 450 (Winter 2012) — if you are reading this, thank you. And Rick, if you are reading this, thank you.