bored · reflection

Reflection on a Monday Night

I yawned all day today.
I tried to stop but I couldn’t.
I wasn’t tired, just bored,
I think,
when I was pushing in to classrooms.
Once I stepped out into the fresh air,
and took deep breaths,
I felt better.

Was it easier to breathe in my own classroom?
Some days I don’t care to answer that question.

Now, I have to wonder how the kids were feeling.
Did they need some fresh air?
Space to move around?
Opportunities for accountable talk?
Movement breaks?

How would I feel stuck to a desk for an hour at a time?
Having someone talk at me non stop?
What if I was afraid of asking a question,
or to borrow a pencil or to go the bathroom?

Teachers have the power to make or break a child.
With our words we can do great deeds.
We can elevate someone or crush them to pieces.
We can affirm,
ask questions we really don’t know the answers to,
we can show respect, love, and kindness.

So, why would we choose to break down a child?
And, yes it is a choice.

Cross posted to March Slice of Life Challenge, Day #17.

reflection · summer · support · Teachers Write

End of Year Reflection

I’m trying very hard to finish this year on a positive note. I don’t want to leave for the summer feeling sour and negative. However, when at every turn it feels as if doors get closed faster than they’re opened, it’s not easy.

Teaching shouldn’t be so hard. Teachers should be supported in their work and administrators need to be the ones to do that. I am feeling disheartened despite repeated attempts to brave the storms. I have even considered quitting my present job in order to gain some perspective on my professional and personal life.

But something is holding me back.

Is it pride in my past accomplishments? Possibly, but it’s not the determining factor. Is it that I don’t want to let down my ESL students, most of whom will be with me next year? Very likely. Is it the thought that this year has been an anomaly and the hope that next year has to be better and so let’s give it another shot? Possibly.

What is certain is that I will be doing a lot of soul searching this summer about how I’m going to approach the coming school year. Nothing new here. I do this every year just like most teachers I know. However, as I look ahead to my vacation, it’s starting to feel small and crowded: too many projects lined up and not enough time and space in which to do them. But, that view is from today’s hectic end-of-year perspective. Once I wake up Thursday morning and realize I am finally on vacation, I will be able to take a deep breath and start the necessary work that will get me ready for the coming school year. Some of this “work” will be “play” for myself and my family, and some will be professional reading and planning that teachers do every summer. One project I will be involved in is Teachers Write, which starts tomorrow, June 24th. Come join us.

And, I’m off and running.

challenges · learning · next year · reflection · self-doubt

Not in my class…

          "He's just bored, " she said. 
          "No. I don't accept that. In this class, he has lots of opportunities to challenge himself," I responded.  Although seemingly calm when I said this, I was seething inside. This is what I was really thinking: "Not in my class." 
     "Maybe he needs a nudge. Some kids need that, you know," she countered. 
     "Maybe," I responded.  This is what I was really thinking: "Maybe that would be true if he were in the class down the hall where all they do is worksheets day in and day out. But not in my class." 
     Then, as I'm wont to do, I started to doubt myself.  
     I sat down with Todd (not his real name) to talk about his math work. I wanted to get a better sense of how he thought about this particular problem since his thinking wasn't clearly evidenced in the explanation on his paper. Admittedly, the math in this problem was not very difficult for him. As we talked I helped him find a way to connect to this problem, and I challenged him to write his own related story problem.  He took me up on it right away.  Was it the one-on-one engagement that did it?  The individual attention that was missing?  When he didn't know something, I directed him to use the internet.  Now, he was hooked.  When I handed over my classroom to another teacher for my regular release time, he was still working away.  Later I heard that he  sought advice when his research led him to two different measurements - feet and centimeters - and was wondering whether he was allowed to combine the two.  Bingo! 
     Later I thought, "Maybe she was right. Maybe he has bored at times or at least not challenged enough. Maybe I dropped the ball on this one sometimes and now it's two weeks before the last day of school. What was I thinking?" And, almost as quickly, an internal dialogue with my two selves ensued. 
     Me: "But, in my class he has lots of opportunities to explore and expand his understandings." 
     Second me: "And, what did you do to ensure that he'd tap into these opportunities once you realized that he wasn't going to do it on his own?"   
     Me: "I made suggestions and he rarely took me up on any of the challenges I offered, at least not for very long." 
     Second me: "And, how long did you take before you tried something else?" 
     Me: "How much hand holding do I do as a teacher before I'm working harder than my students? Where was he all these months? Didn't he get the message that in this class we need to meet each other half-way?" 
     Second me: "He was probably reading his book or chatting with his friends and not listening." 
     Me: "OK. So, what could I have done to engage Todd in the learning of the classroom?" 
     Second me: "What could you have done to engage with Todd in his learning?"
     Me:  (Silence.)
     Ultimately, I believe it is my responsibility to make sure that my students are learning, and to do something about it when they're not.  I also believe that you can't make anybody learn anything they're not ready to learn or don't need to learn.  That's why it's so important to figure out what makes every child in the classroom connect to learning.  Of course, what a child wants to learn may not match the learning that the teacher has planned.  Although this poses a different kind of challenge, it's not an impossible one.  In fact, it's one of the things that invigorates me as a teacher.    
     So, did I do enough? Or, maybe my self-doubting is clouding my memory?  Maybe I didn't do enough of the right things, whatever those may be?  But, more importantly, how do I reconcile this experience so that I am better prepared to address a similar situation in the future?

Posted to https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/the-weekly-slice-of-life-story-challenge-5/