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On my mind…

It’s one of those days. You know, where you wonder if you really want to keep doing this?

It’s one of those days. You know, where you are positive you are doing exactly what you are made to do?

Yes, one of those days. Where the hard and the pay off are all rolled into one. Where the stress and the rejoicing stumble over each other. Where the confidence and the doubt are both taking up space in your head.

It’s one of those days. The kind where I’m not even sure how to make sense of everything because there is just so much. That’s the thing about reflective practice, you have to clear some space in your head in order to reflect.

An image just popped into my mind. My thoughts, reflected in a pool of water. Only the thoughts have piled up, one on top of another, and they’ve filled all of the empty space. They continue to pile. There is no empty space. There is zero opportunity for reflection.

In order to engage in reflective practice, we have to make space in our heads. We have to sort out everything that is jumbled and packed in our days and our practice and our minds. I’ve always thought about making time for reflective practice, but tonight I’m thinking about making space.

I have to make some space in my head in order to reflect on my work of teaching writers and coaching teachers. One way I make space is to make a list called On My Mind… I’ve found this is a great way to sort through thoughts and make space for reflective practice. Here is the start of my list.

On My Mind…

  1. When everything is aligned — beliefs and roles and expectations (and maybe even the sun and stars and moon) — my work as a coach is almost as rewarding as my work as a classroom teacher. (Almost, not quite, but almost.) And it is these times that I think it is worth it. I realize the impact a coach can have, and I can believe that it is important work.
  2. When I’m pushing for change and people don’t want change, then it’s the hardest work I’ve ever engaged in. I would much rather teach a thirteen year old football player how to crack open his feelings when writing a poem than push teachers to change their practice when they don’t think they need to change, nor want to change.
  3. I don’t understand the concept of not needing to change. The way I teach now is different from how I taught five years ago. If I’m really honest, it’s different than it was in August, or October, or even last week. I’m constantly refining my practice. This doesn’t mean I did it wrong before, it simply means I’m constantly growing my teaching ability.
  4. In order to meet CCSS, I have to significantly change my practice from how it looked five or ten years ago. CCSS shifts my focus. Integration of technology changes. Analysis of text shifts. Research skills are honed. Wrapping around this is my thinking about 21st century skills. I keep reminding myself that the jobs many students will have in the future haven’t even been invented yet. They will be doing things I can’t even imagine. This makes me take a hard look at my expectations for enduring understandings. If I want to impact kids now as well as in the future, what are the enduring understandings I expect them t0 glean as readers and writers?
  5. If I’m going to stand firm in my beliefs, then I have to have a strong spirit. It is not okay to run myself ragged trying to please everyone in my professional life. A healthy soul matters. Sometimes this means walking away instead of fixing things.
  6. Speaking of fixing things: I can’t fix it. It’s not my job to fix things. It’s my job to listen, encourage, inspire, smile, lead, nudge, teach, try, help, research, find, love. I don’t have to fix. I have enough other things to do.
  7. This is speaking to me…


How about you? What’s on your mind? I’d love to encourage you to make a list in order to clear some space in your mind for reflective practice. Let me know how it goes.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

12 thoughts on “On my mind… Leave a comment

  1. This is beautiful. So much food for thought. I truly understand what you mean by, “Where the confidence and the doubt are both taking up space in your head.” I am totally in sync with “I don’t understand the concept of not needing to change.” (How dull life must be for those who are set in their ways, everything is fine as is.) I love this: “A healthy soul matters. Sometimes this means walking away instead of fixing things.” I hope you walked away on the day of this post and did something that gave you a feeling of renewal.


  2. So important to be reminded that we all have those days – the good, bad, and ugly – and sometimes all at once. Your honesty is refreshing. I walk every day after school now – no matter the weather. It clears out all that stuff and I can reflect again.


  3. As usual, you’ve written just what I’ve been feeling! #5 is what I’ve been working like crazy on (and not being very successful at…), and #6 is really where I’ve been at the past few days. I almost didn’t slice today because, as I was driving home, I was thinking “My brain is too full. I don’t have space to write.” Thank you for the reminder that writing helps make space! 🙂


  4. I don’t teach now, except for working with some homeschoolers, but much of this applies in just plain ole life. I still find that clearing my head to make space before I can reflect makes sense. When things pile up, the reflection is not possible – I’ve been there before. Thanks for the quotes poster too! Love it!


  5. Where was I yesterday? Thank you to Michelle for directing me here.

    Thank you for sharing how to sort things in a head during confusion. Thank you for your honesty. I hope that writing this post helped you to move on.


  6. “I can’t fix it” is one thing I have to re-learn over & over again. Good and simple list, Ruth. You have many good points, especially no. 3. I’d prefer the 13 year old, too, FYI. Some days I’m not sure I make progress anywhere, & other days, full of great conversations, are good.


  7. Perfect timing to read this after today’s faculty meeting…#3 and .#4 allowed me to take a small breath… Maybe I am on the right track.. I mat even try the “on my mind!”..Thanks!


  8. This line speaks to me, “This doesn’t mean I did it wrong before, it simply means I’m constantly growing my teaching ability.” I am not in favor of mandated change, especially when it is not founded on sound research; however, I do believe that I need to continue to be alert and in tune with the change that is happening and be willing and open to new ways to do things. I teach gifted students, and they constantly push me to reflection. I have to be ready for whatever new direction they may want to take. I will not teach to a test. I will constantly strive to take my students to higher achievement on their terms. Otherwise, they do not own their learning and it does not matter.


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