Sunday, February 21

"Everyone is at your a virtual way! Love my PLN!"

It was a typical Sunday morning.  I unpacked my backpack to start lesson plans, grading, and record keeping.  Then, I remembered Friday.  I didn’t like Friday and I began to reflect on the day.

Fridays are usually busy and I like how quickly the day moves.  Also, the students work all week to earn what we call “Free Choice Friday.”  If a student has completed all assigned work and corrections as well as being a good “team member,” he gets to choose any educational activity he wants and work with friends.  (For example, the student can play chess or a math game.)  Selfishly, it gives me the last forty-five minutes of the day to clean up and get organized for the following week. Everyone is upbeat on Fridays.

If someone asked me to describe a typical day in my classroom the first words I would say would be laughter and enthusiasm.   On this particular day, they both seemed to be absent.  My regularly amusing grammar lesson was dull and lifeless.  I love to create raps and rhymes to help the students learn what are typically dull concepts.  The class had mastered action and helping verbs and when we moved onto linking verbs, they seemed lost.  I wasn’t the least bit amusing or clever, either. What was I doing wrong?  Was it poor planning?  Had I moved too quickly?  Had I failed to set the appropriate anticipatory set?  How could they not understand?  Was I failing?  (Yes, I do have a tendency to be a bit dramatic!) This failed lesson left a sour taste in my mouth that I couldn’t seem to shake.  As I moved through the rest of my day, my regular rhythm of tasks and lessons seemed a tick off.  The day just wouldn’t end, and when it did, I was more than relieved. 

So on Sunday morning, with the lesson plan template before me, I wondered and reflected on my frazzled Friday.  In the quiet solitude of the moment I tweeted.  I wrote:

“Not happy with my teaching on Friday. Didn't have my rhythm. Can't wait for Monday to redeem myself. Do other tchrs self-critique?

I wasn’t expecting what happened next.  The first to respond was @peoplegogy who explained that he isn’t a scripted educator and always tries to find the rhythm of teaching.  Then, @librarybecky responded with “'I’ve sometimes told kids I need a do over.”  Within minutes, @debiowens, @sumrthyme, @saune and @flourishgkids had all answered a resounding “YES!” They surrounded me phrases such as “absolutely,” and “don’t be so hard on yourself.” Even @readingcountess tweeted “Yes-some days are diamonds, some days are duds. When they are duds, I limp home feeling like a loser!”  Of course, I immediately returned a reassuring tweet about my admiration for her ability as I followed her blog. 

I was so grateful for this unexpected support that I tweeted the following:

“This is why I love Twitter. Woke up wondering if other tchrs self reflect and now feel surrounded by teacher support - on a Sunday morning.”

“Could everyone come to my school?”

I was so enthralled with the number of encouraging tweets, I wanted everyone to come with me to my school and keep the positive feeling flowing.  I imagined everyone walking through my classroom door and giving me “a thumbs up” or mouthing, “Way to go, Nancy.”  Can you tell we’ve been working on the visualization strategy in Reading Workshop?  Next, in the mentions column of TweetDeck I found:

@librarybecky: "Everyone is at your a virtual way. Love my PLN! "

My somber Sunday was suddenly bright and hopeful.  I am never alone with my worries, self –doubt or self-criticism.  Supportive educators are a tweet away to encourage me.  Moreover, I was reminded that the best teachers consistently reflect on their teaching.  The best teachers are the ones who worry and constantly strive to do and be better.

So, thank you to @librarybecky and all of the others in my PLN.  When I walk into school on Monday, I will hear the echo of the tweets I received on Sunday and wrap myself in them like a great big hug.  I will remember the time you took   to encourage me and share your thoughts.  I can’t wait to return the favor.   I love my PLN.

(By the way, I am working on a new rap for linking verbs.)


Kathryn (koolkat222) said...

This is a terrific post! So often, I wish that I could teach at a school with my PLN where I know everyone would be passionate about what they do and truly care about the students!
The support of my PLN is all I have sometimes. Thanks for wording it so well.

Nancy Hniedziejko (Nancy Ehrlich) said...

Thanks, KoolKat. My PLN saved my Sunday. I appreciate you taking the time to write!

Alan Stange said...

The other day I was reflecting on how effectively technology was thinning the walls of my classroom. On Saturday morning I was doing what you did Sunday. Saturday afternoon I was Skyping with a new contact from Missouri about setting up classroom connections and a possible virtual tour of museum. It was my Saturday, my 'day off' and I felt exhilarated. I am so grateful to be free of the isolation of my classroom and the strictures of fitting meaningful sharing into the busy day. Twitter is the driving force in my professional development now and it is a form of support.

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am glad we could help over the weekend as I know it's hard to sit with the feelings until you get the opportunity for a "do-over"! I often reflect on how I feel more supported by my PLN than I do at my school at times. You said it well! Have a great day:-) (@flourishingkids on Twitter)

Becky Johnson said...

Very humbled that you found inspiration from my tweets. Your post captures what I think we all feel about our PLN. I love knowing that I have a support network that extends around the world. Sometimes when I am singing the praises of Twitter, there are teachers look at me like I'm crazy. I think I'll forward this post to them! Thanks so much, Nancy

Nancy Hniedziejko (Nancy Ehrlich) said...

Thanks for the comment, Alan. I love how you described technology as thinning the walls of your classroom. Beautifully stated. Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

You have put my thoughts into words again. THANKS!