Friday, September 26, 2014

Year 5: Week 4 – Letting Go

When I first started teaching I would try to make my own worksheets and I wasn’t comfortable with other people coming in and teaching my class. I felt that a great teacher had to do everything him or herself and that it was important that my students go their knowledge and success came from only me.

Now I’m all about using other people’s materials and bringing in as many people as possible to work with my students. The priority is my students’ learning and not who helps facilitate this growth.

Teachers often enter the field with a little “teacher-hero” fantasy. We want to be that teacher who single-handedly inspires a student to grow and learn. Part of this fantasy is that we do this all ourselves while fighting administrators, parents and other teachers.

The reality is that one of the things that truly great teachers do is utilize resources. There is not enough time in the day for teachers to gather all the materials, create worksheets and utilizing innovative instructional activities all by themselves. Smart teachers understand this and utilize available resources that take advantage of other people’s great work and skill.

Teachers who carefully utilize textbooks and other resources are freed from the time it takes to create those materials and can spend more time focusing on their students as learners and human beings.

Students don’t care who came up with a worksheet or band arrangement. The only people who really care about this is the teachers who make them. If you are making these materials looking for recognition from your school community, then you need to seriously look at your reasons for being a teacher. Something is off-balance in your teaching philosophy if recognition is your motivation for your work.

I used to get really uncomfortable with the idea of bringing someone in to help teach my class. I was afraid that my kids would realize that this other person was better than me and then not respect me as a teacher.

What I realized years later is that there is someone out there who dramatically outshines me in almost every facet of my teaching. There are better band directors, general music teachers, arrangers, and curriculum writers out there. It’s silly for me to present to my kids that I’m the best at all of this stuff when I’m not.

When I started bringing in more teachers to work with my students I didn’t see any difference in the level of authority that I had over my students and their level of respect they expressed towards me. Instead they expressed gratitude to me for setting up visits from other teachers.

Use textbooks and other people's arrangement.  Borrow colleague's materials and bring in other people to help your students learn.  If a video can teach a concept better than you, then use it and sit back and relax.  The greatest teachers know when its best to let go.

Don't forget, this song is not about you.

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