Another school year is nearing it's end. Just three and 1/2 hours left to be exact, but who's counting?
After each school year, I like to reflect on what I did well and what I could have done better.
I had a difficult year there is no denying that. For whatever reason it's been a battle, but difficult or not, each and every day I looked forward to going to work to try again.
I've had other difficult years, but this one kicked my butt. I think I expected better from the kids, and from myself. Could it be that my expectations for both were too high?
No, I don't think when it comes to teaching and learning the expectations can ever be too high. If we don't aspire to something better, what's the point?
After each year, especially a difficult one, I like to reflect a bit on how I performed as a teacher.
A difficult year forces me to take a look at my teaching methods. I'm not talking about curriculum so much, because that I followed. They learned! They really learned!
I have readers and writers! The progress is amazing, some came to me not even able to write their names, and now they are writing paragraphs. Some came to me not able to recognize a single letter of the alphabet and can now read! There are times when you can just about see the "lightbulb" go on in their little heads and suddenly everything just clicks for them! That's the really fun part of my job, when you know you finally reached them.
What I am talking about is the other part of teaching. The classroom management part. No one can teach this. You don't learn it in college, no professor, text book, mentor or co-worker can teach classroom management. It is truly on the job training and it changes year to year, class to class, day to day and more often than not child to child.
There are articles to read, workshops to attend, philosophies and methods to try, but in reality what works one year, may not work the next. This is what I struggle with. Why was I so good at it the last few years and not so good at it this year?
I know a lot of it was beyond my control. I know this because I was not the only teacher who had a difficult time with this class. I heard more than once, "I don't know how you do it."
They were difficult at lunch, music, gym, art and science. They were high energy from the start and in some cases that's not a bad thing. They are a cute, lively bunch, but not very adept at self-control. Once they got riled up it was very hard to get them back. So a lot of the fun things I would have liked to do with them, I couldn't. I think in many ways the school year became a little boring and mundane at times. A lot of the same old thing, not just for me but for the kids too. That I really feel badly about.
There were some major behavior issues thrown my way, some way beyond my level of expertise that required some help and intervention. Even though I know this is not my fault it was really hard not to feel like a failure at times. I guess it's just me, not wanting to admit I can't do it alone and it's really okay to ask for help! When I did ask, it was help I got. I can't possibly list all the people I depend on every day for advice, a new thing to try or a reassuring look of understanding. I can't list them all, but they know who they are! I work with the best teachers on earth, they are not just my co-workers, but my friends and not a day goes by that I don't learn something new from them or just simply get a smile when I need it the most.
Even though it is really easy to beat myself up over the difficulties of this past year, instead I'll use it to motivate myself to learn more, try something new, reevaluate. Because, in reality I know I am a really good teacher and when September comes I'll be really eager to prove it!