The first day of school…… at long last the anticipation of returning to school after a year-long sabbatical is over. The first day jitters, the anticipation of returning to the workforce, the apprehension of trying new lessons has all turned into excitement of what is to come. As I look forward it feels like I never was gone.
Having time off to be a student again has refreshed me with new ways to teach as well as communicate to my students. Social media is now part of my everyday life giving me new was to communicate with students as well as parents. As I embark upon a life-long learning experience I will continue to share interesting and innovative ways to learn and grow. I hope you will join me as we begin this new leg of a long journey.
After taking nine months off for a sabbatical to recharge my batteries, I find myself in a conundrum of wondering, “What do I do?”, “Where do I begin?” and “How do I instill all my new found knowledge into my teaching?” this fall. I’ve spent the past school year in a much needed respite from the classroom. Instead I have been refueling my intellect with classes in Technology, Creativity, Common Core Standards, as well as STEM initiatives.
Today educators are required to take students through school to become innovative and creative individuals of the 21st century. My concern has been if I would be able to lead them effectively on this new path of discovery. Do I know enough about technology, do I understand the Common Core; am I meeting the STEM outcomes?
The lingo is new, the timing is pertinent, and the students are young and savvy. Has education really changed so much that I have forgotten how to teach the pupils of today? Merriam Webster defines a student as an attentive and systematic learner. They are children who are inquisitive and explorative in nature that want to play and create. They work to achieve goals and praise that builds confidence to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Yes, the buzz words may have changed and some techniques may be different. This is a phenomenon that has happened throughout the history of education – it is ever-changing. But the process is the same. Therefore, my mission is the same. Whether it is through Twitter, You Tube, or the latest STEM initiative I will continue to do my job…..to instill the love of learning.
Have you ever considered taking a sabbatical leave? I have debated on taking a sabbatical a few times over the past 20 years of teaching. I never could justify the need of leaving my post for a year. Finally, in the spring of 2012 I decided it was time to embark on a leave of absence for educational purposes. Although there were many reasons, both personal and professional, that helped me to make this decision, it still was not an easy one.
Should I? Shouldn’t I? Can I put committee commitments on hold for a year? Do I really need the time off? Will I be able to occupy my time without becoming bored? How will being off affect my retirement income? What are the credit requirements I have to uphold in order to get a sabbatical? And, finally, but most importantly, can I really go back to school at my age? After completing all of the necessary research, filing out endless paperwork, and making inquiries with personnel the decision was made and the leave approved.
Now, jumping ahead 8 months I have to wonder, “What took me so long?” Where has the time gone? Why did I have so many questions about taking this time off? This sabbatical has refreshed my body and mind, taught me how to relax, and given me knowledge in areas that I never thought I would be able to achieve. I feel younger and stronger and more creative than I have in years. I can blog, Skype, and “tweet” with the best of them. And teaching in the 21st century is no longer intimidating, it is invigorating.
My advice for you, if you are so inclined, is to embrace a sabbatical and be kind to yourself.
Kids+Creativity is a network of people, projects, and organizations in the greater Pittsburgh region that are empowering children and youth by creating relevant learning opportunities through the compelling use of technology, media, and the arts.