Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 4: Never A Faliure

How was my Thursday last week? Well, it was really good and then it got really bad.

Earlier my principal told she would come by some time to observe me teaching. The longer I teach the less nervous I get about being observed. I remind myself that when administrators come in to watch me teacher they are rooting for me. They want to see me succeed. They aren’t trying to catch me do something wrong, they are trying to catch me doing things right. Having other people observe is a great way to get feedback and improve on what you do.

As I began one of my classes Thursday morning, the principal walked in a took a seat in the back. The class went very smoothly. The lesson progressed at a good pace. There were no major classroom management issues and my students and I had fun.

Later, I went to the principal’s office and we chatted about the lesson. She was complimentary and pointed out some specific things that I should keep doing. She also had some fantastic suggestions for me. Walking out of that I office I felt like a teach an elephant how to fly.

Then I taught a class that did not go so well.

It wasn’t a disaster. It’s not like anything horrendous happened, but it felt like a train wreck. The lesson wasn't designed well and I didn't react to the students in a way that helped them stay focused.  For some reasons they couldn't stop giggling.

Nothing I tried seemed to work.

I felt awful after that class. After school I went and talked to the homeroom teacher. As I talked to this veteran teachers I noticed something: We were both dealing with the same issues. I initially thought, "seriously, you've been teaching longer than I've been alive and you still don't have all of this figured out?" But it was just that fact, that I wasn't alone in my feeling helped me remember why I chose this profession.

Teaching is not about knowing all the answers. The art of teaching is a practice, it's something that is never perfected. While this may intimidate some people, it excites me.  The act of teaching is never a failure, it's always an opportunity to grow.  That's hard to remember when things aren't going well, but it's important to keep in mind.  While frustration is a sign of care it is only productive when focused in on the future not the past.

I get to see that class again next week and I have some time to figure some things out to try to make it a better experience for us all.  As frustrating as that class was, I can't wait to see them again.  You may think I'm crazy for looking forward to spending my day with a class of third graders.  You may be right but as Billy Joel sang, I just might be the lunatic my students need.

1 comment:

  1. The reality of teaching is that every class, every day - is different. Energy, attention, material, investment, weather, breakfast - they all change the way a class progresses. And none of us, no matter how long we have taught, have all the answers. The more you know, the more you know you don't know, as my version of the old saying goes.

    My yoga teacher reminds our class that every practice (teaching included) has two wings - rigor and surrender. You know your stuff. You will get to know the kids - that's the rigor. And then you have to be ready to surrender to the moment. Together, then, we all learn and grow.