So it’s been a while since I last blogged but I have a good excuse. I have been busily studying away taking 3 classes. My semester ended last week and I have a few weeks to work, run, and relax before heading back to camp the first week of June. One major thing to figure out is I need to find a place to student teach in the fall. One place has already fallen through and this new school I’m looking at I’m not super excited about if only because of the commute. I’m hoping to look at another school this week.
With 9 out of 10 classes in the books you might be curious if I have learned anything in this wildly exciting journey to being a teacher. Last month in one of my classes I happened to summarize my thoughts on this subject and it seems appropriate to attempt to recreate my words here.
When I first started teaching, and when I first started this program I thought I had a reasonable idea of what good teaching was. Add to this my life experience and my personality and you come up with the following description: a hard-ass with a sense of humor. I would be funny and entertaining and do my best to engage my students to the best of my ability in my quest to help them learn. But I would not baby them or coddle them or put up with silly excuses. Be on time, do your work, and put away the Iphone.
My attitude now after my time at Lesley has changed subtly but it is significant. I realize now how complicated kid’s lives are. They may be stuck with a million issues I have no idea about. They may be bullied, or lonely, or depressed, or have ADD, or abused, or anorexic, or poor, or gay, or have a learning disability, or simply overwhelmed. All these potential factors add up to the fact that when they do something I deem to be uncalled for I need to step back, be aware, and listen.
Sometimes kids will just be lazy. But much, much more likely my students will just need to be approached, or taught, or engaged, in another way. Teaching is nothing if not creativity. As important as what I teach is how I teach my students. Affirming their identity and defending them when things go awry will be my first goal in the classroom. It may be, at times, complicated and frustrating and difficult, but also completely necessary. I cannot (and don’t have to) change who I am but if I do not support my students I will be missing something vital.
So, going into my final semester of grad school, that is what I have learned so far.