Every day an educator has been given a gift, a unique opportunity to write a new story, add to an old, and edit. Educators are also presented with the narratives that have been told over and over again; these are the stories anchored in deficit; they are the stories of the problems, challenges, and disabilities of students. Educators are also presented with a choice of which stories to discard, which to keep, and which to tell again. There is power in a story well told, and new teachers, as they learn the craft of storytelling through the lives of their students can either build capacity and competency, or destabilize and destroy.
This year I am relearning the power of my words, I am again finding my voice. I am learning the capacity that I have to build or burn bridges. This is a hard task. I have made many mistakes. I can only move forward by forgiving myself and providing a wide margin for error. I think I learn this lesson a lot through my relationship with fellow teachers, especially in a co-teaching environment. Co-teaching is not for the faint of heart. It's also not for the man or woman who isn't willing to have someone watch for a better part of the day the story he or she is telling, and have it interpreted. It's not for the person who is trying to hide parts of themselves, because what is hidden will eventually be revealed. It's for the woman, it's for the man who is willing to put her or himself on the line and be okay with being read like a book.
The New York City Department of Education's official website, encapsulates the idea of building capacity within trust in the following manner, “We affirm that relationships between all members of the school community— including administrators, educators, students and families—are based on social respect, personal regard, and integrity” (2016). The implications are that in order to help students be their best selves, teachers must first develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses. One thing I know concerning developing of myself, and the helping students on their journey is that there needs to be trust.
Trust is often built upon the stories we tell one another - through actions, words, and the space in between. As a co-teacher I find that the space in between - the silences, the shared thoughts, an unexpected sequence of events are where the trust is built. How do I think about the men and women I work with? Do I want their best as much as I want the best for the children who I am charged with teaching, and moving forward?
As I examine these past few months, and look forward to the future, I think, "Am I living a trustworthy story; is my life telling a trustworthy story?" I do my best to live with integrity, acknowledging those places that need work. When you work closely with others your true self cannot always be hidden. This year has been a reshaping. There have been a lot of internal and external happenings that have caused me to rethink how I see myself and others. I pray that I continue to grow, because growth = success as a teacher. So my goal is to grow - to grow stronger, and kinder, and to be more encouraging - to myself and others.
Ms. St. Jean
Native New Yorker teaching and living the middle school life, using this site to keep it 100. My students are the embodiment of joy.