Reflection and Word of the Year for 2022

I never imagined a year ago that I’d be one of those teachers. Yes, I looked down my nose when I heard stories. I listened smugly as I heard the details of other teacher’s stories while I returned to the classroom year after year, worked on my National Board for Teacher Certification journey, studied for my master’s degree, and tried to figure out how to convince students that read and writing was important to them right now.

And then COVID-19 hit. I discovered I was one of the teachers who liked teaching from the comfort of my home. As an introvert, presenting and managing a classroom 6 hour a day, 180 days a year takes a toll on me emotionally and mentally. But it was doable.

Until 2021 when it wasn’t doable.

Maybe it was residual effects of COVID. Maybe it was the stress of trying complete a reading-intensive class and write a creative project so that I could graduate in December. Maybe it was moving to a new school and trying to get to know a new community.

Whatever the cause, I started facing health issues that I never experienced before. I went to the doctor. I went to the emergency room. My doctor wrote me a note advising my administration to let me take the last of my sick days that I’d saved for 10 years.

My last day as a classroom teacher was Dec. 17, 2021.

I am embarking on a journey to reinvent myself as an educational entrepreneur. I am revamping reThink ELA to serve those teachers who are still in the classroom with resources to encourage student reading and writing based on my years of experience and research.

As an educator, I am making a few changes to this website

In the new year, I’ll be partnering with teachers and writers to bring you:

  • Professional development to help you implement research-based pedagogy in your practice with your students created in partnership with my colleagues.
  • An updated membership of curated short story resources.
  • A new membership that will include access to all rethink ELA resources, including those I’ve created myself or in partnership with writers or teachers (They will still receive their royalties for their part in creating their product).
  • New episodes of the podcast.
  • More blog posts on relevant topics that I’ll have the energy to write or seek guest educators to write.

As I look to the future and make plans for how I can connect with and better serve you, I also look back on my journey and consider what I’ve learned and how my experiences can be of service to you.

Reflecting on the past 10 years

I have tried to write reflective posts at the end of the year, but this plan hasn’t always worked out the way I wanted it to. I did manage to write reflective posts for the beginning of the new year in 2017, the end of the school year in 2019 and 2020, the end of the actual year in 2015. Looking back, it seems I wrote my most reflective blog posts prior to 2016 — most likely because I started my master’s degree and NBCT journeys the next year.

About those journeys: I graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with a concentration in English Education in December 2021. It took me five years, but I did it!

I didn’t write about my NBCT much on this site since I spent a ton of time writing for the actual process itself. I learned so much about myself as a teacher, about how to look at the students in front of me and make lesson and unit plans, revamp and try again as part of my journey. However, I missed certifying by three points. Before I found out, I had already decided that even if I didn’t certify, I was not going to be sad or regret the journey. The journey has changed who I am as a teacher and has enabled me to gain insight into myself as a teacher and my students as learners that I would not have gained without that process.

I am thankful my journey.

I have learned more than I could ever have imagined from my students. They have shifted my understanding of the world and I would like to think I am a better person, as a result. I will miss working with them. But I am not giving up. I am continuing my graduate studies in the doctoral program at OU and will serve as the Oklahoma Writing Project graduate assistant. I will also continue to serve as co-editor of the Oklahoma English Journal.

I am looking forward to reinventing myself as an educator who serves classroom teachers by continuing the research into what works in teaching reading and writing and finding ways to connect that research to actual classroom practice.

I am also acutely aware, through my online and local connections that many teachers are looking at leaving the classroom. While I wish this were not the case, I know that I have a unique skillset as an entrepreneur with 20+ years of online business experience, who has been running an online publishing company since 2017, that can benefit those teachers who have an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether teachers want to create a side hustle to supplement their income while sharing their resources and expertise, or start a full time business like I am, I want to help.

With this in mind, I’ve started a business aimed at helping teachers be their own bosses. You can read more about it at reThink Your Lifestyle.

Regardless of where your journey leads you as an educator in 2022, I’m looking forward to working with you.

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

  1. I am rereading your blog posts, and this one resonates. I, too, am reinventing myself as an educator. Once, I was a high school English teacher. Later, I taught a graduate level class to teachers in my district (Writing Across the Curriculum). I’ve also taught adult learners in a local career college. I went back to teaching in a private, independent school, first as THE high school English teacher, retired (all of four weeks), and then became the middle school teacher. Now, I teach grades five through eight ELA–and I am the Academic Dean for the school. I don’t know where this journey will take me, either, but I know that it has made me a better teacher.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one reinventing myself within education. It looks like you have a lot of experience in many different roles. What advice do you have for those of us who are just now moving out of the classroom and and into different educational roles?

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