I knew that there was no way that I’d be able to keep up on the #reflectiveteacher challenge this month. Although I’m glad that the challenge inspired me to write a few blog posts this month, my most recent posts are basically ways to complete the challenge without really “doing” it. If you want to see the real deal, check out my friend Meta’s blog. She has dug deep for each blog post–I really admire how she’s stuck to this challenge all month and reflected in such meaningful ways.

So now, just to complete the challenge, here’s another catch up post.

Day 22: my PLN grew exponentially once I became involved in the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project. I’ve learned so much from my associations with other NWP folks, both in face-to-face interactions and online. I appreciate checking into Twitter every so often to see what links people are posting–and I share these regularly on the Writing Teacher Facebook page. NWP people are some of the smartest teachers I know and I feel so fortunate to be involved in this organization.

Day 23: Not sure if this counts, but my work with SJVWP allows me to share very specific examples of teaching with my pre-service students. That’s one way I bring the community into my classroom. I also love that my job has very tangible results as the students I teach go out into the community and teach others.

Day 24: I’m really intrigued by digital writing. I’ve been in meetings where people have commented that digital writing is the “same” as other kinds of writing. I don’t think this is true, but I’m constantly trying to understand how/why it’s not true. The work of James Gee and Howard Rheingold helps me understand that digital writing has the potential to be collaborative, reach a larger audience, move readers out (through links) rather than forward. I think these characteristics constitute difference in writing.

Day 25: The ideal collaboration between students would reflect what I just described about digital writing. When I’ve asked students to collaborate on wikis or google sites, I’ve seen these kinds of things happen. Students take responsibility, they share information, they learn from each other, and they create richer writing because of their collaboration.

Day 26: My go-to sites for help with teaching are Twitter, twitter, and twitter. I can’t think of a single site that comes even close to the ways that Twitter helps my teaching grow.

Day 27: In the past, weekends were the times that I got caught up on things like grading and the like. This semester, I’m working hard to also have the weekends be times for me to recharge emotionally. I’ve realized that being a workaholic sometimes takes the joy out of my teaching–so I need to have time to relax, hang out with friends, read for pleasure, hike, and recharge!

Day 28: I think that neither technology nor curriculum should drive our teaching. Instead, we need to look to our students: what they’re good at, what they need, what interests them, how they learn best. Those are the things that should come into play in our planning. Technology is a tool for learning. Curriculum is the method/activities we use to foster learning.

Day 29: When I first started teaching, I came from a very authoritarian stance. It’s what I knew and what I relied on since I had so little experience. Over the years, I’ve learned that students respond better to teachers that they feel care about them. I suppose that I’ve also come to understand that my “authority” comes from my knowledge and expertise. Period.

Day 30: Hmm . . . what would I do as a teacher if I weren’t afraid? I guess I’d throw out the syllabus and build a course with students. I’d try a more maker approach to teaching than what I do now.

That’s it. I’ve “finished” the challenge. Definitely not in the spirit of the challenge, but as much as I could do given the busy nature of my teaching life and the intellectual space taken by the competing demands of my job.

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