Thursday, July 05, 2007

Teaching is HARD

I almost titled this post "Being a Teacher is HARD," but that's not quite accurate. I definitely agree that anyone can be a classroom teacher. Anyone can go in and talk at the kids about something for 50 minutes; anyone can assign homework and grade tests. Being a teacher is not that hard. Teaching something, on the other hand, is feeling like it's nearly impossible.

I've been in this teacher preparation program for not even a two weeks yet and I am already overwhelmed. I guess I always knew how involved teaching is, but every day I just feel like I learn five hundred new things that I absolutely have to pay attention to in the classroom or everything will be ruined. It's all an unbelievable balancing act--the individual student vs. the group; discovery and inquiry vs. what the need to know for state exams; encouraging students while still being tough; having fun in a directed manner; setting standards and expectations that are high, but not unachievable; challenging kids of all different levels with different skills, intelligences, interests... the list goes on.

In my Curriculum & Instruction class the other day we did an exercise where we thought of something that we really struggled to learn, but finally achieved. First we looked at the barriers that prevented us from learning it. Things that came up included fear, lack of direction, lack of practice or opportunity to practice, no motivation, etc. Then we made a list of things that finally helped us overcome our difficulties. It turned out that anything from one list could just as easily be on the other. Fear can be a huge motivator; freedom is just what some people need; a lack of practice can force you to make the most of each opportunity, etc. Great. So basically anything I do as a teacher has to come at just the right time and in the right amount.

We've also been talking a lot about teachers who changed our lives. True, I got into teaching in part so people will remember me forever without me having to smash ice cream cones in their face (Dane Cook reference), but I want to be remembered as the teacher who made someone love math or or offered a new way of thinking or showed the student that s/he is highly capable. I don't want to be the teacher who turned a student off from learning forever. Everyone has that memory of one phrase or incident that pointed them in a certain direction, for better or worse, and I suspect that it usually came from a well meaning place. Sometimes you get lucky, but good intentions are just not good enough.

There is no A for effort in teaching.

1 comment:

Jen said...

You know, Geetha, you've always been a natural with kids. That will go a LONG way in terms of the motivation, etc.

High expectations tend to motivate kids. Period. And you know that - you like challenges, and so do most kids, even though some of them claim not to.

And you won't reach everyone. It just doesn't happen.

And I can't imagine you ever falling into the category of turning people off from learning forever.

My .02, which you probably could have lived without. ;-)

I'm reading blogs again, so I'm glad you continued this one!

Btw.. click on my name on blogger and check out my blog today - not for the blog, but for the video clip - food for thought for educators, indeed!