Sunday, July 15, 2012

I'm a teacher on a journey... (personal reflections)

(If you want the synopsis of this post, feel free to scroll all the way to the bottom...)

I've been feeling rather frustrated lately as I've been planning for next year.  Not frustrated with the flipped classroom, but frustrated with myself, I guess. It's hard to pinpoint.  

I guess I am someone that always wants to have it all together, and the more I think, read, and reflect, the more I realize how much I don't have it all together. And I have come to the point that I must learn to be okay with that.

I tweeted this a little bit ago, and I think it helps to state a little how I'm feeling...
I started this blog as a place to reflect on my journey with the flipped classroom.  To write about what I tried over the course of the semester and my perspective on how things were going - what worked, what didn't, what I liked, what I didn't like, etc.  I would definitely say this blog has served its purpose.  It has been an amazing tool for me to brain dump and make sense of what was going on in my classroom.  It has been a great place to share ideas and to collaborate with others about what is going on in their flipped classrooms.  The amount of professional and personal growth that has occurred over the last six months due to this blog and the people I have met because of my involvement in the blogosphere and on twitter is astounding and something I would never take back.  I cherish every conversation and interaction, whether in person or through tweets, emails, or Google+ Hangouts.

What I didn't expect was that so many people would start reading this blog and coming to me for advice on how to start their own flipped classrooms.  Don't get me wrong - I love that I actually have people reading and commenting on what I am writing.  I love sharing my experiences with other people and giving tips on what I have seen work in my classroom.  It is always fun to get a comment or an email in my inbox asking follow-up questions and thanking me for blogging.  I've gotten some pretty amazing compliments in those emails ("You have inspired me!" "You are the most amazing teacher ever!" "You have made such a difference in my teaching!"), but they oftentimes remind me just as much how unworthy I am to receive those words of praise. 

Hence, my tweet.  If anything, this summer has conveyed one thing to me: I really don't know much at all.  I'm far from an expert.  As "expert" as some people may think that I am, I remind myself that I don't really know it all and I don't really have it all together.  And do you know what? I think that's okay. In fact, I know that that's okay. 

I am a teacher on a journey.  A journey I am writing about for the public to follow and engage with, should they choose.  I am not an expert and I don't claim to know all the answers, even if others expect me somehow to know it all.  I am willing to try new things... and possibly fail at them.  I am willing to share my opinion... and not have people agree with me (although I'm still not very good at that second part yet :)).  And most of all, I am willing to write about my journey, my successes and my failures, in a public forum for anyone to read.  It's a scary endeavor, if you think about it.  Not too many people are willing to put themselves out there like this.

However, sometimes I feel like because of my experience, I'm supposed to know all the answers.  Like I'm supposed to know the best way to do this and the right way to do that and come up with brilliant ideas of how to effectively communicate a certain idea.  At those points I must come the point where I realize that people enjoy honest sharing (because deep down if we admit it, we can all relate), and true members of my PLN won't really care if my ideas aren't perfect or if my plans don't necessarily lead to success the first time around.

I have encountered some very seemingly cocky educators this year, whether on twitter, blogs, or during the summer at ISTE (many of whom I've seen on blogs or twitter), at least that is how I perceived them.  Educators who seemed from the outside to have it all together, to know exactly the right way to do things (their way, of course), and had no problem discounting others' ideas.  They blatantly talk down on others in public forums.  It almost disgusts me.  Then I met some educators who I thought were "experts", only to find out that they are just like me - educators on a journey, willing to share, wanting to grow, and desiring to find out more how to help our students be successful.  These are the type of people I want to surround myself with, this is the type of person I want to be.

I'm writing for myself and my professional growth and learning.  I just have the privilege of walking this journey with some other amazing educators because we are all willing to share openly and honestly about our journeys.

I am honored that you have found my experiences helpful to your practice.  
I am blown away that my ideas have transcended my classroom and are being used all across the country.  
I am excited when I receive questions and comments regarding what I am doing in my flipped classroom.
I will continue to blog, writing and reflecting on my experiences and new knowledge gained.
I will continue to share, knowing that others can benefit from my ideas and will share their ideas right back - then we can all learn!
I will continue to question, read, research, think, analyze, and discover - because there is always more to learn.
But I am not an expert.  


I'm a teacher on a journey. 

I like to blog.

I love to share ideas.

I want to continually grow and improve my practice.

I want my students to succeed at their highest levels.

I don't know everything (not even close), I never will, and I can admit that openly.

Thank you for joining me on my journey.


  1. Love this, so honest and from the heart. I am getting better with accepting the limitations of my teacher voice (I don't have a PhD and/or have not written a book)but also feeling braver that we as teachers have something important to say. So now when I encounter those "bully" types I try to be a bit more vocal and give my perspective (like last Sunday :)).
    I think it is important for all of us to be authentic and accept where each of us is at. Some times it feels like people are critical if you as a teacher are not more radical and I feel sensitive to that, as we all are trying our best.
    You have done an amazing job of sharing your journey, you should be proud of yourself for your commitment to growing, changing and doing it out in the open :)

    1. Thanks Carolyn. You are one of those people who I am so blessed to have in my PLN! Thanks for being so open and willing to share as well :)

  2. Crystal,
    I just want to thank you for your honesty about your journey. You are one of the ones that inspire me. There are many people who consider themselves "experts" and they can be exhausting. Keep on your path and stay true to yourself.

    1. Thanks Michelle! I appreciate the comment and the encouragement :) Let's keep learning from each other!

  3. that tweet is ancient wisdom:
    The more you know, the more you realize you know nothing.
    (attributed to Socrates)

    you're in good company!

    1. I knew I had heard something like that somewhere :) Socrates is a wise man!

  4. I really appreciate this post. Part of this I have been stewing over the last few days and trying to make sense out of it. I’ll leave some of my reflections for a post of my own and not hijack yours, but I want to respond directly to some of what you mentioned.

    Sometimes I am worried that I am giving poor advice, or not providing the information that people expect. Most of the time I am thinking to myself, "Uh . . . are you sure you want to be asking me?"

    But, I look past that because I know that something I say could be helpful and I think it’s more important to allow that dialogue to occur when it is requested, rather than shutting it down for fear of leading someone on the wrong path or for fear that the individual could distract me from my own personal journey.

    I might not be the most experienced, and I may not be an “expert,” (-sidenote, which I think is a dangerous declaration – saved for another day), but I know that the dialogue is priceless and enriching for individuals on both sides of the table.

    I also think that what you stated in reference to the “cocky” educator is a result of “ego.” Is education about us the educators, or is it about the students? I realize this might sound like a silly question, but sometimes I’m not convinced that the right answer is always an easy response for some.

    Exclusivity and "gate-keeper" behavior only deters from the mission we as educator’s should all be trying to accomplish:

    To educate our students to the best of our abilities and to ensure our future is in safe hands.

    This is getting preachy, so I’ll stop. I hope to have the same PLN at some point, so that I can experience that collaborative spark in my neck of the woods.

    1. Hi Matthew,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment - I look forward to your post when you get to it!

      Your comment: "Sometimes I am worried that I am giving poor advice, or not providing the information that people expect. " really stuck out to me. That is exactly how I feel sometimes. I must constantly remind myself that I can only give advice from my experience and what has worked for me, and nobody can tell me that my experience is "wrong".

      Also, great point in saying" dialogue is priceless and enriching for individuals on both sides of the table." I am glad to connect with people who want to engage in dialogue...and am teaching myself to stay away from those who don't really have that as their end goal.

      I'm glad you are on twitter and hope to continue to connect!

  5. I will add my agreement as a reader and fellow blogger. I started to feel it was a big responsiblity to blog since so many people seem to be reading, commenting and emailing me. However, I think that this has gotten me away from what I am supposed to be doing, which is using the blog as a process for myself - to reflect and improve. That being said, I am trying to step back, gather thoughts and ideas, and focus on my classes. I hope this helps me put the focus back on my content area and brings my blog back from a "flipping blog" to a spanish blog.

    Keep positive! I think it is easy to get overloaded over the summer because we spend so much time putting things off until this time of year. Don't forget to take some time for yourself-maybe even unplugged! If we, as educators, don't recharge during the summer, where will we be in October?

    1. Hi Heather,
      Thanks for the comment, and I'm glad we can empathize with each other. I am feeling so much more positive just after having written this post and getting my mind wrapped what I was thinking.

      I've been trying to relax this summer:
      Turned off the noise on my iPad so now I don't constantly hear when new emails or tweets come in - I only check when I want to
      I'm unplugging for 4 days this week... going on an anniversary trip with the hubby... and definitely looking forward to being away!
      Reading about a book (novel) every day or two, and loving it :)

      I hope you are doing the same - we both need it :)

  6. You hit a high note with this post....and it is a literary masterpiece.). I think u r exactly correct. I.get very annoyed with ppl who seem to spend more time in.selfpromotion than.just trying to make teaching a better profession. I appreciate ur ideas and willingness to share them, I just wish I had the time to.try them all:) thank you for being in my pln.

    1. Thanks Pete,
      I'm glad we are able to share ideas and thanks for being in my PLN :) We need each other!

  7. I think you put into words everything I have been struggling with the last few days. After going to ISTE, I realized that I have so much that I want to learn and do. It feels very overwhelming, especially as I am trying to figure out how I want to set up my flipped math class and what technology I want to do to make it happen. I feel like time is flying by faster than I can figure it all out. I am a index card girl too and my list keeps growing and growing. Thanks for your post. It was a breath of fresh air to hear you express what I was feeling. I haven't even gotten to launching my blog yet...still working on the design and what I want to post.

  8. Crystal, I can't remember how I stumbled upon your blog in the first place, but I know for me it has been as if I have found a kindred spirit in math - a person whose thoughts on teaching math is much like me and who has put into action ideas I have had but didn't have concrete ways of putting into action. You teach 2 of 4 classes that I teach and your inspiration has been great for me. You share what is real and I appreciate that. Keep on keeping on! Enjoy your time with your hubby. Getting away is important to because I know that school starts again this fall all too soon.

  9. I can't tell you how much I like you. I would favourite you AND this post a million times, Cheesebucket.

    You've helped me push my own thinking and practice far beyond where I thought possible. You remind me that there is always more to learn and explore. You keep blogging, and that keeps me blogging...not to compete with you, but to keep collaborating with you.

    I feel lucky to count you in my PLN and also as a friend. Thanks for sharing this, Crystal.

  10. Your energy and consistency with flipping and blogging, self-evaluating and coaching other flippers is truly an inspiration. How far you have progressed and how many resources you've shared is incredible. Just as you can get stuck obsessing on the few students who didn't thrive in the flipped class, or who refused to buy into it, the same thing goes for the educator critics who judge from the outside.

    Keep focusing on the positive, and know that you're a leader in a teaching revolution. Qualified? Expert? Knowing all the answers? Hey, I didn't know you needed certification to be doing this!

    You have been and continue to be an important help to your follow teachers/educators/flippers.



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