February 12, 2016

Since I have changed the format of my blog to allow for more self-reflection, readers probably know me better than most of my acquaintances. Here I feel free to express my inner thoughts and doubts, and share my vulnerability and humanity. Much of the thoughts shared on this blog relate to teaching and coaching, but many of them are personal and relate more to what goes on in my head. Though it probably seems self-centered – if not narcissistic – I feel like I have to study my thoughts and feelings in self-reflection in order to understand the way I am and improve. Of course, some of it is just complaining, so please forgive me when I drift off into negativity.

Most educational blogs I’ve read leave me feeling like other teachers are more caring, more dedicated, or working harder than I am. I feel like my lessons aren’t as cool, my room isn’t Pinterest-worthy, and I don’t do enough to appreciate my students. I feel like I should spend more money, more time, and more energy compared to others.

Yes, at times I can be insecure, anxious, and jealous. I can fall deeply into self-doubt and depression. I can be a pessimist. Students can annoy, irritate, disappoint, and even anger me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t be a good teacher because of my personality, but I’m honest. I don’t know if these other cheerful, optimistic, unconditionally-loving teachers are real. Can someone really feel good about teaching all the time? For me, teaching is an extraordinary challenge. I have persistent headaches from students being loud. I constantly kick myself for not planning a lesson well or for saying something stupid. I worry incessantly about whether I am helping or hindering students’ futures.

However, I care. I know I care. I wouldn’t keep doing this if I didn’t care. I talk about teaching – colleagues, students, lessons, grades, etc. – at home, and with my friends. I bother everyone in my family by rambling about which student said what, what I said in return, how well so-and-so did on their assignment. I bring essays home and grade them, commenting out loud on students’ writing. Really, I don’t know how anyone can live with me. However, I’m hopeful that I can lead my students to improve themselves and prepare for a successful future, or at least learn how to survive and press on when disappointments inevitably occur. I want to learn from my mistakes and improve. I want to be a good teacher.

Today, I taught and we incorporated the Chromebooks mostly in 10th grade, but a little in 11th. I am finding that we cannot be online all the time. There needs to be traditional discussion and interaction. We need to read together. I need to ask questions.

One of the 11th graders complained because he started reading The Great Gatsby online. He said, “Look at how long this chapter is!” and scrolled down thirty pages or so. In my head, I was like, “Yeah. It’s a novel,” but his comment revealed that my students do not all know how to sit down and take time to really pore over their reading. They don’t yet have the discipline to relax wit ha book and lose themselves in another world. Many lack the discipline and endurance to tolerate extended descriptions or long explanations that set the tone, develop character, or build anticipation. How sad that if these skills are not developed that they will miss out on the deep, rich experience of understanding and relating to someone else and their story. How unfortunate that they may not unravel the mysteries and motivations of other characters, times, and places.

I told one student that he “hooked up” with a story we read, rather than really getting to know “her.” If the story was a woman, he just looked at her but didn’t spend time to understand what made her tick and what her motivations and desires were.

 

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