Who was or is your most influential colleague, and why?
Another prompt demanding absolute commitment to one most, one favourite. As I said on Day 4, I don't do so well when asked to choose a single favourite. Things change too much, too quickly for me to deal in absolutes like favourites. New experiences, new people come in and out of our lives and effect us in ways both big and small, some of which we don't even recognize until much further down the road. How can I choose my most influential colleague when so many have changed me in so many ways? How can I choose my most influential colleague when I might not yet realize the depth of their effect on me?
Lest I seem like I'm avoiding the heavy work of actually thinking about this, rest assured that I have pondered this long and hard. I have thought about it and come up with several influential colleagues, all of whom shall remain nameless except one. I do this for the same reason that actors end their acceptance speeches with "I'm sure there are many people I have forgotten, so thank you" - I am sure to forget the influence that many people have had on me and so I don't wish to single any one person out (well, except one, but she's pretty obvious so I'm not too worried there). So without further ado, here is my list of most influential people, starting with the one who is currently my biggest influence, day in and day out.
If you've explored this web site and blog at all, you will have noticed that it isn't a solo endeavour. The Lit Pit isn't something I do alone - I share this journey with my energetic, entertaining, gregarious, passionate teaching partner. We spend a lot of time together - creating, planning, designing, problem-solving but, unfortunately, rarely teaching. Because we are in this together, because we had a plan and have worked our butts off to see it through, because we are not yet done tweaking, refining, revising, because we see the same problem from very different angles, because we spend so much time together, because we have a shared vision, she is the most influential colleague in my life at this moment. I don't think you can work this hard with another person and not have some of who they are and what they love rub off on you. Her passion, her organization, her love for life, her relentless pursuit of better ways to teach, her insatiable love of great books - her influence can be seen in so many ways in my personal and professional lives. I can only hope we continue working together for a very long time, because I think her influence is good for me!
As I mentioned at the beginning, there are many people who have influenced my teaching along the way, some in ways that have profoundly changed the way I do business as an educator (and, as a matter of fact, as a parent). I think they deserve a mention here as well, since I wouldn't be who I am without them.
The teacher who chose to keep her struggling students while I taught the remainder of her class a literacy lesson. At the time, this wasn't how Learning Assistance was done (and still isn't, in far too many places) but she opened my eyes to the value of keeping kids with their classroom teacher. She shared their aha moments, moments they would not have had if she had not been present for both their small group and whole class lessons. She also humbled me, as I realized that my "specialized training" didn't matter if it wasn't used in ways that most benefited the kids. Lessons I didn't digest until a few years down the line, but man, once I did, they have profoundly changed the way I do my job, every single day.
My good friend and fellow teacher, who has taught me the value of teaching emotional intelligence, rather than just expecting it of kids. The love and compassion that is evident in her classroom, both from her and from the kids, never ceases to amaze me. I only hope that, if I ever return to the classroom, I can be half the teacher she is.
The teacher who has some of the best classroom management skills I have ever seen but doesn't realize it. The kids in her room learn so much because they want to be there, because they are not under her control but rather have internalized the lessons she has taught and are able to practice self-control. I have learned a lot from her about energy and intensity, about the locus of control and about taking the time to follow-through because you care. Lessons I try and put in to practice whenever I walk in to a classroom.
Finally, my long-time (now retired) administrator, whom I spoke about yesterday. From her I learned so very much about being a teacher, about being an advocate and about being leader. Her influence in my life was profound and I hope it isn't done, just different.
To everyone else who has touched my life along the way, a profound thank you. You have probably influenced my in a way I just haven't realized yet.
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about literacy, collaborative teaching and finding new and innovative ways to engage & motivate all kids. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!