Apr 22, 2018

Behind the Scenes at TpT Flock


5 Takeaways from the TpT Flock Regional Conference

I was lucky enough to go to the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference, or Northeast Regional Meet Up called TPT Flock last weekend. It was an inspirational event with many educators who are really changing the face of education and having a huge impact on students, not only in their classroom, but on so many other classrooms in the US and around the world. 

Many of my biggest takeaways apply not only to TPT but also to the classroom of a regular teacher outside of the classroom. I wanted to share some of those takeaways with you.

Details matter, but everything doesn’t have to be perfect

Of course we don't want to make materials for our classroom, or to share professionally, that are full of errors or look messy. However, I think often we try too hard to make something perfect. As we use it it will grow and develop. It's more important sometimes to get something of good quality out (either to our students, or our colleagues) and start using it than it is to keep it on our computer, or in our heads, until it's a hundred percent perfect. Details do matter, but “strive for progress, not perfection.” - Unknown

Don’t try to do it all

This is the biggest thing that I felt like I kept hearing all day: don't try to do it all! This also applies to your classroom! Everybody has their strengths. Maybe you're really good at games and making class fun, or having a sense of humor. Maybe you're really good at connecting with students, or have really innovative and fast ways to grade and assess. Perhaps you are good at building in teachable moments or differentiation, or reading strategies. Maybe you are really good at read alouds and doing demonstrations. There are countless pieces of being a good teacher. No one is good at all of them! Focus on your strengths and build on those! Focus on one thing at a time that you want to learn and improve on, but realize that you do not have to do it all. If you spread yourself too thin you probably won't be successful. Instead, maybe take one unit to try something new, or try one new method at a time.

Collaborate, and reach out for Support

Teaching is often a solitary endeavor, even though we are constantly around people. No one is really in our classroom with us, and we may or may not be in the situation where we plan as a team and really collaborate with other teachers. In my teaching experience there are many times when we're really working alone in our classroom with our students. This is why it's so important to reach out. It could be within your school to to your administrator, to other teachers in your school, or to Facebook groups or discussion boards. Realize that you're not alone! You have things to offer to other people and they may be able to offer you simple solutions in an area that you're struggling

Learning happens when you connect with other people, and with what you already know

Sometimes we think that we're going to learn a bunch of new information on our own by going to a training, reading a book, or seeing something online. In reality there are many times that the best learning happens when we build on what we already know and discuss it with other people! We may see someone doing something just a little bit different than what we're doing, or add on one new twist that makes a big difference. As educators we know that students need a foundation for what they are learning and that they learn best when building on what they know. We often forget this ourselves. It applies to us too! Take what you're doing, talk about it with other people and go just one step further than what you are doing. You might be amazed at the results.

Remember your why

Remember why you became a teacher, and began this journey. Teaching can be a rocky road, and often a draining job. You may have to deal with difficult parents or behavior problems. Think about why you got into this and what were your goals. Maybe you wanted to help students understand the world around them, get them excited about science, help them see that they can be successful or help them grow as young adults. I'm sure you have your own reasons. Take a couple minutes and think about what those reasons are. There have been several times throughout my career when I got to the point where I didn't think that I was wanted to teach anymore. Just as I thought I couldn't take it anymore a something really positive happened. A student had a breakthrough learning moment or came to thank me for something or some other small action happened during the day that made me remember why I come to work every day.

I was lucky enough to go to the conference and meet up with some fantastic teachers from many different states and even Canada I felt honored to be part of that group. However we work with many great educators everyday and we need to remember that and be thankful for each other and for our students.

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