The Reflection Summit - Appistoki - “To Look Over”

You’ve done it! You’re at the Summit you sought!  You’ve truly been on a HIKE - through Heart, Inspiration, Knowledge, and Engagement.  Now it’s time to look back and look forward. It is the final step of the HIKER’s journey, a chance to think about all you’ve accomplished, the struggles you faced, and to look out to find the next Summit to seek.  This week is all about Reflection, so it is appropriate that this post is title Appistoki, which in the Blackfoot language means “To look over.”

Reflection is piece we teachers are constantly doing in our minds, occasionally committing to paper,or digital media, but rarely do we feel comfortable sharing it out, especially when it involves our failures or struggles.  So often we want to be seen as successful, professional, amazing educators, that when we are faced with a truly difficult moment in our careers, we shy away from putting it out into the world for other to see and offer comments.  We need to stop this. I am just as guilty of having been that teacher, and I still am sometimes, but this blog has helped me tremendously when I am faced with struggles and not wanting people to see me make a mistake, I am reminded that I will grow from that learning and that there are people in my professional learning network that can help me, if only I would share the struggles alongside the successes.  We need to share more with each other and truly dive deep into our lessons, our pedagogy, and ourselves so that we can reach our peak and become that great teacher we know we can be. This blog will be my place to do that, and I am committed to sharing it out with the world through Twitter and Facebook.

So I’ll start the conversation with one struggle I’ve had this week: I’ve realized that I really struggle in getting my ideas and visions for projects into clear words for students to understand.  I often find I am answering the same questions over and over again, but I can’t figure out a way to make the task crystal-clear for my middle schoolers. I like big projects, grand ideas, and empowering students to own their learning, but sometimes I miss the part about providing a clear path to that deeper learning.  That is by far my biggest struggle as an educator. Send your comments and suggestions my way @Coach_Stephans!

Reflection is key, but this blog is also titled Summit Seeking.  That means once you’ve reached one peak, you’ve got to find the next one.  Last year’s peak for me was creating a year-long gamified class, which I know I will be always adjusting and fine-tuning.  This year’s peak is to dive in to Standards-Based Grading and helping students become more reflective about their learning and to make my feedback be as specific as possible about what skills they are working to master.  So, now that you’ve reached a peak in your journey, what will be your next challenge? How will you grow professionally or personally this year? What is the next Summit you are seeking? Please feel free to share out by replying to the tweet for this week’s post.  I’d love to hear about all of them!

Summit Seeker(s) of the Week: This week I’m shouting out two Summit Seekers who have helped me become more reflective in my practice as a teacher, Aaron Hogan & Lyndsay Yates. Aaron is an English, Language Arts, & Reading Coordinator in Texas whose book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth, provides great guidance on becoming an educator who can do amazing things in your classroom.  I was privileged to get to hear him speak twice at USM Summer Spark this year and it was those sessions that inspired me to start this blog and make my reflections about teaching public so that I can grow as a teacher.  You can follow Aaron on Twitter @aaron_hogan. Lyndsay is one of my former student-teachers who currently teaches social studies in Kansas City. Her passion for teaching, for helping kids, and for constantly striving to become better is always inspiring.  While I had the chance to mentor her and help her be ready for teaching, she was always asking questions, and that forced me to start thinking about new ways of teaching & inject some energy back into my classes. She is truly a wonderful teacher that I am lucky to have had influence me.  You can follow Lyndsay on Twitter @lynzyates23