How I Succeeded, How I Failed

In my efforts to become a more reflective educator, I’ve been trying to figure out how I succeeded, how I have failed, and more importantly, why. I intended to write one of these blog posts at the end of the school year, but that’s something I failed to do (is that irony?!). I’d actually meant to share this a month ago, but.. <insert excuses here>.

Although the school year is off to a busy start, I’m making a point of reflecting, so below are my summer successes & failures:

Successes

Person on top of a sunset-lit mountain with arms outstretched in celebration

Hooray! (Image source)

  • teaching as an adjunct: I have been wanting to teach in higher education for a little while now since I knew it would ensure I am up-to-date on the best practices in my field, and it would give me an opportunity to reach more students, albeit indirectly. I got the chance to teach a graduate level “School-Based Speech Language Pathology” course this summer, and I would say it was a success because I survived (and so did they!). My overall sense from students during the course was that I assigned “too much work,” and while I empathize with this sentiment, it’s a lot of work to be a school-based speech language pathologist, and this was a summer intensive course, so I can live with any negative feedback about the workload. Why I see this opportunity as a success is because I could clearly see how much knowledge each of my students demonstrated and gained throughout their varied projects and assessments. I was so proud & impressed with each one of them (so it sounds to me like that much work paid off)!
  • taking an online course: It was interesting and humbling to be on the student side of things once again. I took a course in Word Finding with Dr. Diane German, who literally wrote the book on word retrieval. She taught me a lot about the subject matter (about which I will get to provide an in-service or two at my school), but she taught me just as much about how to be an effective instructor: she gave thoughtful comments, was reasonable without being a pushover, and she gave diverse resources (e.g. readings and videos).
  • Google Level 2 Certification: I applied to take this back in February, but due to some glitch, I never got my confirmation. After a few unanswered complaint emails, I finally heard back and had a week to complete it…and I succeeded! As an instructor, I was impressed by the range of questions and applications of skills the exam required. I thought it was fair, and dare I say fun?
  • writing guest blogs: Success! Read them here.
  • writing a technology curriculum: Success! I had the privilege of writing the middle school technology curriculum for my school. It was an interesting balance of content knowledge (e.g. What are the parts of a computer?) and skills knowledge (e.g. update a terrible Google Slides presentation to make it more effective), along with a sizeable Digital Citizenship component.

Failures

In typical Growth Mindset form, I consider all of these failures to be learning opportunities. While it was important for me to understand why I didn’t succeed at the tasks outlined below, I’m using these as motivators to keep trying…

Image Source

Keep at it! (Image Source)

  • writing a book proposal: I failed…and I have no excuses, except for all fo the activities listed below. I have a very clear idea of what I would like my next book to be about, but without clear deadlines, I have not finished writing up my proposal. Therefore, I have now set myself several deadlines in order to complete this task in a more timely fashion.
  • Google Certified Trainer application: I probably could have gotten my materials in on time, but then I noticed that they would be changing the application criteria for the next quarter, and all I would need was my Level 2 Certification. Although I had passed each subject area exam back when that was the route to becoming a Google Educator, I thought it would make more sense to wait another quarter and apply thereafter. Now, I’m excited to apply for the new Google Certified Trainer program. Stay tuned!
  • going to the gym regularly: Complete fail! I should have known– the less regular my schedule, the more difficult it is for me to stick to a reliable workout schedule. In the summer, I tend to walk and bike a lot, but given the heat, I kind of failed at that, too. Can I blame climate change? Maybe. Regardless, my solution to this problem is similar to the book proposal one– now that the school year has started, I both have a more regular schedule, and have my gym times in my calendar, so I’m more likely to actually go!
  • planning for the school year: Complete failure! I will use the excuse of, “Well, there will be some new students, so I don’t quite know what to plan for,” but in all honesty, after the busy summer I had, I knew I would be able to use the two week professional development and preparation time that we get at my school before the students arrive. Plus, I have a new speech language pathologist to work alongside, and our planning sessions have been so fruitful. Two brains are definitely better than one!

I hope to reflect on my school year in December when my goals include: successfully teaching an undergraduate course, using a SMARTBoard effectively in the language therapy classroom, and continuing to present in dynamic ways at national conferences.

What has helped you succeed? What has contributed to your failures, and what has helped you succeed afterwards?

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