Friday, November 14, 2014

Year 5: Week 11 – Letting Go Of The Ones I Let Down

I consider myself a pretty good teacher but I’m not really confident about how I rank up with my peers. One thing I am sure of is the fact that I am a much better teacher than I was when I first started almost a decade ago.

My instincts for how to handle situations are much sharper now, I am far more productive during my prep time and I am more responsive to my students. I teach with more confidence because I am more sure of who I am as a person and I am able to navigate politics now whereas in my early years, I felt completely inadequate in this area of teaching.

Many times, my improvements as a teacher make me feel proud but other times I feel guilty.

In my first month of teaching high school band, two seniors dropped my band class. These were two great boys who had been in band since fifth grade and my class just wasn’t as fulfilling as their previous experiences.

During my first year as an one-to-one aide, I had no idea how to manage the kid I was assigned. I had never worked with a student with special needs in this way and I had never worked with a fourth grader before. Instead of having a plan and an approach for this kid, I learned on the job.

After my first performance at my current school, one of the students came up to me and told me how she had no idea what the song they had just performed was about. I was so concerned with putting on a good performance; I forgot to spend time, teaching them what the song was about.

It’s really difficult for me to think about these moments. I feel that in some way I failed my past students for not being the teaching I am now. Yes, I acknowledge that this sounds silly and that there is nothing I can do about the past. I know I did the best I could with my knowledge and experience and that's what’s most important, but that fact doesn’t take away this feeling of guilt.

Because the students I taught in my early years deserved better.

Teachers learn on the job. Some kids has to sit in a class with a first year teacher and deal with their mistakes and tribulations in order for that teacher to become great. Is this fair to the student? In some ways no, but in other ways, if this new teacher is truly passionate about not only teaching but knowing students, a teacher can inspire learning even in there’s some issues with the teaching itself.

I wish I could go back in time and give my past students a better version of me. I know I can’t and even if I could, I don’t really need to. Dwelling on the past isn’t going to change anything, but reflecting on my early years is important.

Thinking about the students that I felt like I “let down,” because of my inexperience has helped me stay focused and work hard for my current students. I know that years from know I will look back at some of the things I’m doing with my students and be embarrassed. I hope that this continues to happen because this means I’m growing as a teacher.

Remembering those kids and those moments from the past where things didn’t go great reminds me to give my kids my best. I can’t give my kids the teacher I will be in the future but I can give them the best of what I got right now.

To my past students I let down: You deserved the best teacher in the world but instead you got me. I like to think that I gave you the best that I had all of the time but I know that there were times when I couldn’t give you that and I’m sorry. While it may only be a small consolation, know that you have never left my mind and I am thankful to have had the experiences that I had with you.  I'm proud to have been your teacher and I am proud to call you one of my students.

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