Sunday, April 2, 2017

Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Nomination

A few months ago, one of my colleagues nominated me for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).  Although I sometimes get praise from my coworkers, supervisors, and the parents of my students, I've never been nominated for an award for my teaching before, so I'm pretty excited about this.  Most teachers will tell you, that they get more complaints than recognition for what they have done well.  So its really rejuvenating to be noticed for good work.  I was warned by another colleague, that the application process for this reward was pretty intense.  When I looked over the requirements, I thought (fill in some forms, get some letters of recommendation, submit a resume, record a lesson, and write a narrative) that the most difficult part would be the recorded lesson.  However, I think the narrative ended up being the most challenging piece for me.  I have dyslexia and processing language comes slowly to me.  So I suppose I should have expected that to be the most difficult part of the application for me.

I just wanted to share some of the process here in the event that you find yourself nominated in the future.  I think the application process was worth doing once.  I don't expect to win, but I'm glad I finished the entire process.  If I were nominated in the future, I would probably not reapply.  I probably spent about 20 hours in the whole application process, and I ended up reflecting on my teaching deeply, but I'd be hard pressed to take so much time away from my work and my family again.

The first thing that you do when nominated, is fill in some basic information about your teaching assignment.  Your building principal is contacted to verify your eligibility as well as to write a letter of recommendation.  You also have to choose 2 other people to submit letters of recommendation.  You could choose supervisors, coworkers, students, parents, or anyone else who could describe your effectiveness as a teacher.  I chose my supervisor and a coworker who happened to be my mentor when I started teaching 13 years ago.  My mentor wrote a beautiful letter that I ended up keeping a copy of to read on days when I need a reaffirmation that my hard work is noticed.

Next, you will have someone record a lesson for you. It has to be one continuous shot, which was a challenge.  I understand the reasoning, but I wish I could have edited the video to include video confidential style reflections after the fact.  My nominator gracefully agreed to give up her planning period to film my lesson.  I tried to pick a simply lesson that was very routine for me and my students.  The very next day, we were actually doing a really fun lesson, Candy Catapult, but I wanted the reviewers to see a typical lesson, not an above average lesson.  Part of me feels like I should have filmed the project, but I only do 1 project per marking period and I did not want to represent myself as someone who has managed to implement tons of projects.

Finally, you write your narrative.  This involves responding to several prompts.  Some of the questions related to the recorded lesson and other lessons, other related to your teaching in general.  This is the part that took the longest and eventually, I grew fatigued of the writing and I decided it would be best to just submit my application.  I could have spent many more hours on perfecting the language, but again, I wanted to be myself, flaws and all.

Overall, I am thankful that my coworker felt highly enough of me to nominate me.  And I'l also grateful for the wonderful recommendation that my mentor wrote for me.  I also enjoyed the challenge of reflecting more deeply on my teaching than I usually have time to do on a daily basis.  It would sure be a hoot if I were selected :)  If you have the chance in the future, nominate a colleague who does a great job.  It feels so nice to be recognized for our daily dedication to our teaching and we could all use more positive energy to get us through the many challenges of teaching.

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