Something about getting together with other teachers and learning.
Thinking about what I do without the immediate pressure of doing it is refreshing.
Thinking about what I do with the chance the change, like right away, is amazing.
I know being in my classroom is the most important thing.
I also know being recharged makes me better in my classroom.
It is important, maybe even vital, to refuel
So, I love conferences.
Actually, presenting is part of the fun.
It forces me to really reflect on my practice and break down my ideas in way that can be shared.
Getting a chance to share the things I have learned is invigorating.
Hearing feedback and enthusiasm is encouraging.
I have become adept at writing proposals for this very reason.
But it wasn't always that way.
For years I was one of those teachers who HAD to be in class every day.
Eventually, I realized that I was doing myself and my students a disservice.
Working sick sucks and doesn't help anyone learn.
Worse, though, might be creating a classroom that doesn't function without me.
Of course, the learning is better when the classroom teacher is there to orchestrate everything.
Kids respond best to those they know and respect.
On the other hand, a big part of my job is to teach them to be self-sufficient learners.
I want to create a place, a routine, a mindset in which students learn to be learn, not to be compliant.
Don't get me wrong, I am far from good at this yet.
Hopefully, I get a little better every year.
For sure, my attitude about absences has changed.
My view of how to responsibly organize the learning in my classroom has shifted.
If students know the routines and understand their purpose,
If students are motivated, invested, interested in the learning,
If appropriate choices are provided and supported,
maybe missing a day here and there isn't quite the catastrophic failure I used to think it would be.
Either way, I invest much more in my own learning.
And I love conferences.
For whatever reason, February is conference season.
This week, I got to start prepping my presentations.
I also got to start picking the sessions I will attend.
It is fun.
I can no more teach on an empty tank, than I can drive on one.
Though it has been hard to accept this truth:
and feeding myself as a professional is a good thing.