Teaching Opinion

End of Year Reflection: Know Yourself

By Starr Sackstein — June 21, 2018 2 min read
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No one knows me better than me. At the beginning of this school year, the keynote speaker at our conference day asked us to write a letter to our future selves and this morning mine was in my mailbox.

As I read the letter I wrote to myself in September, I couldn’t help but smile and nod in assent. Although the letter was short and not that specific, it fit.

This is what it said:

Dear Future me, I'm certain that this year was challenging and rewarding. Take the time to truly reflect on the learning and consider what kind of impact can be made for as many classrooms as possible. I know you were afraid to leave the classroom because you loved it there, but I'm going to reaffirm that you made the right decision. Keep being fearless and transparent. Don't be afraid to be you... ever. Sincerely, Starr

Honestly, the letter to myself was spot on. This year was both challenging and rewarding and despite the discomfort of being out of the classroom, I was reminded many times this year that I didn’t necessarily love being in the classroom my first year in it. Actually, many times in my first year of teaching I questioned my decision to become a teacher and struggled with knowing my role and not being good at it yet.

After 16 years in a classroom, I was good at it, dare I even say great. I became the teacher I always wanted to be for the students I taught and was fortunate enough to be that teacher for some of them. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that impact and building those relationships.

Now one year into leadership, I can say that I wasn’t as fragile as I was my first teaching year. My learning curve was great and I had to put some of my own personal philosophy and beliefs to the side to work with the team and get to know them. And like with teaching, the greatest aspect of my new position is the relationships.

Almost certainly, I will never love testing or scores or any kind of evaluation that labels people insufficiently whether it is a student or a teacher, but I understand that in today’s climate that is a part of the game for now. And because of that, I will work hard to treat the situation humanely, assuming the best of everyone and hoping they do the same for me.

Leadership is a lot lonelier than teaching. When I was in the classroom, I shared a camaraderie with my colleagues that often got me through tough times. Some of these colleagues became and are fierce friends who continue to be my sounding boards and support in different places.

One thing is for sure, I was transparent and fearless. This leap was not an easy one, but a very worthwhile one and now as the summer is upon me, I look forward to really combing through my notebooks from the year and looking deeply into what I learned and how I can continue to grow from here.

What is one thing you know for you were successful at this year and one thing you know you will work on and why for next year? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.