Skip to main content

The Teacher I Want to Be

The

I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal. 

I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don't like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I'm looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for. 

Teacher

An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was asking her how she decides if a book is just right for her. She started telling me that one of her strategies is the five finger  rule. Before she could finish explaining, I interrupted her. (Mistake #1) Instead of listening and probing with more open ended questions, I told her not to use the 5-finger rule anymore because it doesn't often work. I continued by asking her what else she does to determine if a book is just right for her. She proceeded to do a perfect retelling of what I had just told her about the 5-finger rule. When I asked her if that's what she really does or if she was telling me what I wanted to hear (not in those words exactly), she nodded sheepishly. 

One lesson that I am learning over and over again during this first month of school is that I need to listen more and talk less. I need to simpler questions that force students to dig deep within themselves for their truth. I need to ask questions that help the learner think for herself. I need to ask questions that support students in doing more of the work. I need to ask questions that honor the learner and what she brings to the table. I need to really see the strengths rather than the deficits. Because in the big scheme of things, focusing on a student's deficits says more about me than it does about the learner. I need to stay positive as I notice and name what students can do even if it's incomplete or tentative. 

I

I need to continue to listen to what I say to my students. I need to weigh the value of my words. 

Want to Be

Although all of these changes may be awkward at first, I know it will get easier with time until I get closer to the teacher I want to be. 

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Advocacy

Some late night ramblings about advocating for our students. Thanks to @margaretsmn for provoking us on #DigiLitSunday.

Advocacy - 
to speak out for those who may not be able to do so for themselves
because they're afraid,
they don't know how or
they can't.

To be the voice of our students.

To speak out means to
risk being labeled a troublemaker,
not a team player,
insubordinate
just because we advocate for students.

There's something wrong with that.

There's something wrong when 
decisions are made for the benefit 
of adults in a school.
When we take the easy way out
because...well...it's the easy way out.
No confrontation.
No risk involved.
Staying in the safe zone.

Comfort level.

But, our students deserve more than that.
To have their backs.
To be their advocate.
Because if not us,
then who?


What Needs to Change...

The concerns addressed in this post have been brewing in my head for a while.
I just hadn't sat down to articulate them...until now.
Any resemblance to recent or future contexts is purely coincidental.
What is depicted here is a generic portrait of institutionalized thinking around professional development..

This post is written as an interrogation between an imaginary reporter (IR) and a teacher (T).


IR: What do you learn in school wide teacher workshops?
T: What the administration deems important.
It's a one size fits all arrangement.
Whether or not it is a good fit for teachers
is not the point.
If everyone did something different,
how would the school keep track of that?
It would be too messy.
Besides, how would a school make sure
that there is consistency from grade to grade?
You see, differentiation and choice
are not meant for teachers.

IR: Who is doing the learning at school wide teacher workshops?
Some teachers, I'm sure,
but not everyone.
Take a teacher who already know this stuff.
I…

Earth Day

Earth Day is designated    

as the one day during the year to focus 
on the environment.
A day to honor 
Mother Earth.
A day to renew our commitment 
to the environment
by changing
habits and activities
detrimental to a healthy Earth.

The first Earth Day took place 
more than 40 years ago.
A lifetime for some,
but a second of time 
in the history of the Earth.

It's ironic, 
given the short sojourn 
of humans on Earth,
that we have done so much
to make the Earth vulnerable 
in order to make our lives easier.
We never considered 
what we might lose 
in the process.
Until it was too late.

Earth Day was born as a reminder
that we are on this beautiful planet
for only a short while.
So, we must be stewards of our home.
We must take care of it.
It's really as simple as that. 
Every day
and not just on April 22nd
of any given year.

Not only have humans 
accelerated climate change
caused changes in the ozone layer
accelerated pollution of all forms
negatively impacting animal and human life,
but we have lost a critical con…