This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By Jaclyn Kiedasch
What are your thoughts on challenges? Do you welcome them? Do you hide from them? I LOVE challenges. I tend to seek them out. No matter how busy I am in my everyday life, I look for ways to challenge myself or others to be better. Oh, of course, I am only talking about challenges at work. Challenges as an educator. Challenges in areas where I feel confident and know I can conquer. Challenges at home or in my personal life? NO WAY! I am a coward. I will do just about anything to avoid them. This makes me wonder, does anyone else have two personalities like me? A confident, idea-sharing, problem-solving, go-getter, hug-insisting, extrovert at work and a not motivated, anti-social, could sleep all day, anxiety-ridden, introvert at home? No? Well, that is me. So, you can imagine when my two worlds collided, and I must now educate my students from inside my house. There were tears, frustration, uncertainty, excuses, confusion, and lots of wine. My extroverted, never stressed, and technology efficient husband, had no problem jumping into teaching, interacting, and socializing with his students. I envied the way things were so easy for him and how much he was accomplishing without even considering this to be a challenge. I blamed his successes on having students old enough to read and use technology without assistance. I compensated my failures with blaming any obstacle that I thought stood in my way. Deep down, I have always known that the obstacle was a challenge I wasn’t sure I could overcome successfully. Wait! Aren’t I always babbling on about Growth Mindset to my students and parents? Begging them to understand that failure is the best way to succeed? Oh, the guilt! I realize now that I am forced into a challenge and am terrified to make a wrong move. I am terrified to make a mistake and in front of others! DING! DING! I do this. We do this. Every day. We ask our students to be vulnerable and take on new challenges every minute no matter their comfort level. How can I not practice what I preach?
So I ask myself, how can I keep my first graders engaged online with a screen and miles between us? How can I enrich their learning and keep them from falling behind? How can I build on everything I have already taught them this year to prepare them for next? It’s simple... challenges. We have been preparing them for this every minute of every day. Being asked to do something out of their comfort zone is normal for them. Being asked to make a mistake and learn from it has become natural. I have spent many lessons working with them to think outside the box or to try something new without fear, but with excitement for new knowledge. It is now time for them to teach me to not fear the unknown and the challenge that lies before me. Once again, the impact my students have on me is far greater than anything I can give them. Challenge accepted.
Jaclyn Kiedaisch graduated from West Virginia University in 2014 with a Master’s in Elementary Education and a specialization in Early Childhood Education. Jaclyn began her career as a teacher at Steenrod Elementary School in first grade. She attended Steenrod herself as a student and always wanted to return to teach.
Currently, Jaclyn is a member of Cohort 3 of The Data and Technology Fluency Project with West Liberty University and the CREATE Lab (situated in Carnegie Mellon University).