This is my response to the reflection questions at the end of Chapter 3- "Creating Empowered Learning Experiences" from the book "Innovate Inside the Box" by George Couros and Katie Novak.
1. Growth is essential to our work as educators. What is something you used to do as an educator that you no longer do? Why did you stop doing it?
Check homework every single day. I stopped doing this a few years ago. When I first started teaching, I was very religious in checking homework for completion (not correctness) each and every day and entering it as a grade. That is what (almost) every single teacher had ever done for me, so that's what I thought had to happen. As I taught longer, I realized two main things:
I learn the most about my students when I am able to have conversations with them in non-academic times. Sometimes that is before or after class, sometimes it is during "Flex periods", sometimes it is in the hallway. Whenever it is, simply having a conversation with students about what they do outside of the classroom and outside of school goes a long way to showing that you are interested in them as a person, not just as a student. And if students think you care about them as a person, they are more likely to be engaged and empowered in your classroom, which allows you to shift your practice from "teaching to students" to "learning with students".
3. Share an area where you received feedback and used it to improve. What was beneficial about the feedback and how did it spark your growth?
I'm going to go all the way back to my student-teaching days. About halfway through my placement, my cooperating teacher told me, "You have a great grasp on the content, but you are not developing relationships with your students as deeply as you should at this point in the year." This is really the first time that I thought about how much relationships with students truly mean. I couldn't just be a great "explainer" of math; that wouldn't mean anything to my students if they didn't think I cared about them. Ever since that more, I am more aware of how I am building relationships with my students. I am still not perfect at it, but I am much better than I was at that point and I continue to get better every year.