Saturday, March 22, 2014
It’s no secret that I came to education alternatively. I didn’t go through a standard education program at a college. I didn’t know from the time I entered college that this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t student teach. I didn’t have courses in curriculum planning before I started.
Sometimes it’s difficult to come to teaching through the back door. During the classes I take now, I often think, “I really wish I would have known about this 6 months ago.” It’s trial by fire, but from what I’ve heard, every teacher’s first year is a lot of that.
Despite the ups and downs of my alternative certification program, one of the things I can’t deny that it has taught me is to be open to feedback. Everyone’s feedback: the principal’s, my coach’s, the chemistry teacher’s, the librarian’s, my 8th period’s, the kid’s in the hallway. It all matters.
Feedback was not always something that was easy for me. Reading an English teacher’s comments on a paper or having my voice teacher tell me that last note was flat elicited tears. The smallest corrections were hard for me.
It’s hard when we take things personally. And the first year of teaching is a lot of taking things personally. My kids scored badly on a test: I didn’t teach them well. My 7th period yells across the room at each other: my expectations weren’t clear. A student refuses to complete his homework: I didn’t make it interesting enough.
What I’ve learned though is that this kind of feedback is not personal. If my ultimate goal is to get my students to achieve at their highest potential, then all feedback is welcome. But I can’t take it personally.
I have an open door policy in my classroom. Anyone can come to see me teach at any time without notice. Maybe it’s the performer in me, but I love having an audience. Even my kids sit up a little straighter and ask a few more questions when someone else is in the room.
I won’t deny that there have been days when I was glad no one else was there (I think every teacher has had those days of, “If you think you know everything, teach yourself!). Most of time though, it’s so rewarding to open up your process and make yourself a better teacher for your kids.