April 8, 2010

Learning To Teach ...A Thirsty Thursday Reprieve.

Being away from the career for a year permitted me to forget how bogged down it is in semantics and ideals and jargon.



So here's what I am learning as I return to my pseudo-teacher-self these days as I am catapulted back into teacher mode: I am never never never going to feel comfortable in my career.

How's that for honesty?

Seriously - pins and needles people!

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

My goal is to never let this blog turn into the "Why I HATE teaching" venting club. No Way.

I LOVE teaching.

I LOVE students.

I LOVE creating lessons.

I LOVE the daily interaction and constant stimulation and high-energy-ness of this career.

I learned a long time ago while working a summer four month gig at 3M that being constricted and contained to a desk and a Word document was like being sentenced to life in prison for me.

I dulled out that summer. I was zapped. Uninspired. A part of my zesty self just died. Even my weekend partying could not keep my pizazz afloat!

All this said, it is hard hard hard to come back and be bombarded once again with all the things that are changing in education.

For the archaic nature of the business, it's need for change and constant renewal is EXHAUSTING.

So yesterday (for instance) we were building our new 'Critical Pathway' which (to me) is simply a fancy way of saying glorified unit that a division follows. 

Not so bad, right?

No it's really not. But get more than one teacher in a room and ask them their opinion or advice on the subject and expect to have your head start to slowly inflate until you seriously fear it might burst into a million little frustrated pieces all over everyone

Too many cooks in the kitchen.

And we're all right you know.


No, seriously. We are. In our own way - through the lens in which we view ourselves as teachers and how that should look in and outside the classroom - we are all correct. And I really think that there's nothing wrong with this.

I also don't begrudge the profession for its want to improve - its want to validate and substantiate our industry - to to - be accountable. There is NOTHING wrong with accountability. We should all strive for this. Who wants to listen to/learn from/believe in someone who is simply spewing non-sense for NOTHING? 

Indeed we should be accountable.

And division meetings and Critical Pathways help with that. 

I think my headache comes from the fact that there's just so much to do! And that's okay - it's what I like about teaching.

It simply does come back to this: as a teacher who is and hopefully will always be constantly aspiring in my career, I will NEVER FEEL COMFORTABLE. I will never feel I've finally made it: that. I. am. a. great. teacher.

Because I am constantly asked to do more, to flex my teaching finesse and philosophies, to change my strategies, my lesson content, my report card format, my yearly terms, my yearly scheduling, etc. etc. etc.

There's no room for getting too far into a rut - the rug is always being pulled out from under me.

The only thing constant is change.

And you know what? I actually do like it like that. 

I really do!

But it is so so unsettling. It reminds me of Michael Jordan who said he never let himself feel he reached his potential - he always wanted to aspire - otherwise he would perish; he would not reach or retain his 'best' status.

And I want to always be leading edge. I know that education is good: it has always been good. And people wonder why is it changing so much and all the time? And what was so wrong with how I learned as a child? 


But our students are changing. Their interests are changing. What we know about learning styles are changing.

And it is our job to keep up - to bring them into the future armed and ready to lead our civilization.

What a job!

That is NOT to say that all change is good or that we need to be bombarded with all the mumbo-jumbo all the time. There does need to be balance.

Let us pray that I can simply take in the important information, pair it down to one or two ideas and then apply those and let the rest lie dormant: no guilt; no excuses. Isn't that good teaching practice? Not to dig my heals in and say NO MORE CHANGE. But at the same time to be distinguishing and to think critically about what is being fed to me? And not to become an old fart who thinks that learning new ideas and strategies is a waste of time and space. Because - well - it's not.

And to not grow, learn, or adapt is to fade out and become irrelevant. And I want to be a relevant edu-ma-cator.

I really do!


Here's to a life of discomfort!

And to the whole WHACK of necessary accessible energy I'll need to keep up - bring on the coffee people!!!!


How's that for a Thirsty Thursday?

*Let's all crack a bottle of red and, while sipping merrily, contemplate whether this was a positively happy and high energy post or, quite possibly, an anxious post?  -- hm. maybe back to wine reviews for me?


  1. Anonymous9.4.10

    Great post, SB. I have no experience with the teaching "industry" (except for my own as a student), but many, many of my friends are employed as teachers and complain of the same problems -- this unrelenting push for change that seems more like an administrative pet project (not to mention, a huge waste of time) than something that actually benefits students. And that sucks. And I can understand your need to "vent" a bit. It also sounds like a huge waste of taxpayer's money to have all these non-teaching teachers (I assume these changes come from the folks at the top who aren't in the classroom anymore) dreaming up new strategies, goals, blah blah blah. And it must be terrible for them. They probably get a lot of pressure to justify their positions with this stuff.

    Well, I hope you had a chance to indulge in some wine and forget about things for awhile. Have a great weekend.


  2. I'm applying for a teaching job next year. I have mixed feelings about it.


Thanks for your thoughts!


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