I think that for a lot of my teaching career I've been "in the zone". Of course as a newly qualified teacher I had a lot to learn and I relied on the support of other teachers who had more experience. My first job involved teaching teenagers who needed learning support - a job my degree in geography and history certainly hadn't prepared me for. Later when I moved schools I also started to teach English, which was another new subject for me. I stayed at each of these schools in the UK for 3 years. I think by the time I'd managed to master what I was doing I moved on. I never got bored because I never really repeated much. I was never frustrated because I always had great colleagues who gave me support when I took on new things.
Moving overseas to an international school probably put me back "in the zone" again. I taught students from so many different countries - in one class in my first year there were 13 different languages being spoken by the students. In my time there I also took on 3 new IB programmes and moved around to different areas of the school when I became too comfortable. Each time I moved to a different grade or division of the school it was challenging but I always had someone who helped me learn and so it was also rejuvenating. There were also wonderful initiatives that I got involved in such as the Arctic to Mediterranean Butterfly Sight project, where I learned from interacting with other teachers in different countries. There was a feeling of community in my school as we worked together with other teachers on Project Zero and Visible Thinking. Living in a country where I had to learn a new language also put me "in the zone".
My next international school was in Asia. This time I was in the cultural zone, trying to adapt to a new way of life and pushing forwards into the new frontiers of technology in education. I think I love teaching with technology because it is always changing, because I am always "in the zone" and learning something new.
Some teachers are comfortable with teaching the same grade every year, or sticking with the same units of inquiry, but for me I love change and I love learning. I've come to realize that a lot of the frustrations I've felt recently are because I'm no longer "in the zone" and I find it disappointing that I'm not being encouraged to learn anything new. I'm excited about moving on to new adventures, doing things in new ways, considering new and different ideas of best practice in 21st century education. I'm looking forward to being back "in the zone" again next school year.
Photo Credit: Compare and Contrast by Tom, 2008
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