Looking back, it's easy to see how this happened. The epic brawl on my way our of my previous employer started it all. That year I was cruising, feeling more effective then ever. Then, the trauma of that event left me cautious, quiet, and nervous. My first year at my current job was the toughest year I've faced. New school, new students, new curriculum, and high expectations combined with still licking my wounds left me rather ineffective (even though we still got high growth). I felt nowhere near where I was before.
This year started with a bang, or a thump, with broken bones and a handicap making regular life and mundane tasks more difficult. Teacher on the IR was difficult, along with being mentally and physically exhausting. It is hard to grow when you're exhausted from stagnation.
Over winter break I made it my goal to do nothing. Wasting days of my life playing Madden Football and cheering for the Broncos. Much like in Office Space when Peter wakes up the day after being hypnotized. He came back a different man.
I came back refreshed. Reflected on what the students needed and how I can best support them and move them to the next level. I realized how bogged down I was in content, and was unable to teach real skills, like citing evidence, thesis, critical thinking and questioning, debate, and analytical reading. During some random professional developments I had an epiphany and began to work on creating new curriculum and ways to help students be reflective and grow rapidly in necessary skills. The results have been dramatic.
Since break, my students have gone from writing vague generalities to citing specific facts, using and citing quotes to support an opinion, discussion using academic language, interpreting analogy in political cartoons and designing their own, and challenging each others opinions.
I have already been observed twice through our district evaluation system. The first one was by my principal, who is insanely hard, and my average score was about a 5/7, which is fabulous. District teachers average around 3-4/7. My co-teacher was observed and earned about a 2. The scale is not meeting (0-2), approaching (2-3), meeting (4-6), and distinguished (7). You are assessed in 12 different areas and nobody gets distinguished. It's that hard. In my old district I was always in the top of the evaluation, but that left me nowhere to grow. On this system, my principal was able to share with me very concrete ways I could continue to improve, and those suggestions were small tweaks to my existing instruction. My evaluation at the beginning of the year put me 3-4, a 5 is huge growth.
On Thursday I was observed again by the district peer evaluator. I earned two 7s, and the remainder were 6s. My evaluator told me those were the highest scores they ever recorded, and wanted to record my instruction to help model and norm good teaching.
I think I'm back!