Friday, June 26, 2015

Year 5: Summer Reflections On Insecurities

When I was saying goodbye to two of the teachers who were retiring from my school, one similarity between them became very clear. They seemed very insecure. Both of them were always interested in my perspective, even though both of them had taught longer than I’ve been alive. Neither of them asserted themselves as experts and there was a humbleness about them that I found comforting but also surprising.

It was comforting because knowing that a teacher who was at the point of retiring had similar struggles that I did, validated my issues as a teacher, but it was also a little surprising. If you’ve been teaching as master teacher for so long shouldn’t you have your life figured out by retirement?

Then I reflected on the my own confidence that I carry myself and the kind of “face” I put on in front of my colleagues. Then I realized that, my persona of having things figured out, and seeming like I knew what to do in some ways was because of my own personal insecurity.

The people who have the least to prove, the people who have mastered parts of their lives are the ones who are secure enough to embrace things that need work and freely express these things, which can seem like insecurity to others.

It takes more strength and self-belief to admit to your peers that you don’t know the answer, than to put something forward in an attempt to overcome a level of insecurity that you have not reconciled.

I’ve met many teachers who have a lot more experience than I do, and I’ve always connected better with the ones who combine their incredible skill as a teacher with humbleness. This combination of knowing one's strengths and also embracing weaknesses, communicates authenticity to students as well as other teachers.

There have been times that I’ve expressed my struggles as a teacher with my students. Sometimes when and eighth grade class isn’t going well, and I’m out of ideas, I’ll tell them. It’s a scary thing to do, but like all authentic expressions, my students reacted positively and seemed to appreciate my honesty.

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve never had that laser-eye direction in my life. I have hopes. I want to be a better teacher. I want to be a person in the community that people can rely and come to in times of crisis. But more than all of that I want to be that a faculty member who secure enough in my teaching, that I can be more open about what I don’t know.  It is exactly those people who have inspired and motivated me to be a better not only a better teacher but also a better human being.

It’s the fact that we don’t understand our world that leads us to our greatest accomplishments and our most meaningful human connections. Maybe that’s the same for teaching. By embracing who we are and bringing forward what we don’t understand, perhaps we can create the connections with other teachers and other students that can bring education become closer the goal of helping our students better know and embrace themselves.

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