Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Teacher"

I'm a teacher.  So that means I teach for 210 minutes a day and spend the rest of the day just hanging out and drinking coffee right?  And don't forget that teachers get out of work earlier than most other professions so that must mean that I get to go home and relax on the couch.  Yeah ok.  The 210 minutes of teaching is the easy part.  See the thing is that the job title of "teacher" is a sneaky one.  Yes it includes teaching, but it also includes a million other things (and I'm not even talking about the usual ones that people bring up like lesson plans and grading papers).

Aside from actual teaching these are some of the other ways I spent my time this week:

As a psychologist...
  • Trying to figure out whether a kid's frustration was due to stuff at home, stuff in other classes, stuff in my class or just math in general.. and then trying to figure out what I could do to ease the situation as much as possible and avoid it in the future.
  • Trying to figure out exactly what triggers a kid's anger in my class and what I can do to make the situation better.  
As a tutor...
  • Took kids during my prep periods to work with them individually on missing assignments and bring up their grades significantly.
  • Spent a lunch period working with a former student on a project for another class.
As a counselor...
  • Spent time during a prep period talking with a former student that had gotten in trouble and then talking with another teacher to help ease the situation a bit and help the teacher and student to better understand each other in the future.
As a friend...
  • Let students teach me how to play the iPhone/android game that they are obsessed with one morning.  Consequently now I'm hooked and can't put it down.  The next morning instead of hanging out in the hallway like they usually do, they came into my room to talk strategy :)
    [sidenote: the game is insanely educational and I'm not sure that they even realize it]
  • Postponed what I had planned for one period to instead took the kids go down to a fundraiser they wanted to go to.
As a suporter...
  • Stayed after school to watch a soccer game & cross country meet.  One kid came in the next day and came right to my room to tell me he saw me there and to then talk about the game.

Did I have to do these things?  Of course not.  It's certainly not in my job description, but this is the stuff that makes the bigger impact.  These small actions make kids feel like I'm interested in their lives, like they have someone they can talk to, like I care about their success, and like I'm willing to take them seriously.  It makes me exhausted, but that's ok.

Anytime I talk with kids about what they value in a teacher, it's always about the way a good teacher makes them feel.  They usually can't pinpoint exact things that I've said or done or taught that made a difference, they just say it's a feeling they get.  I could be wrong, but I think it all this stuff that makes the difference.  Kids connect with a teacher that takes the time to be interested in them and for certain kids this can make all the difference.  



4 comments:

  1. YES. My favorite is when my STUDENTS think that I teach for 240 minutes and just sit around and play while they're at connections. I had one student shadow me one day when I had a meeting to attend and other errands to run around the school. He went back and told students that connections should be longer because teachers cannot get enough done in that time!

    I'm struggling with this whole multi-sided teacher thing, but not in the way that you'd expect. I LOVE being the psychologist, the tutor, the friend, the counselor, the encourager, the cheerleader.. but I'm currently not loving being the "teacher." I'm only in my second year, and I know that it's tough when you start, and my school is in a tough area to teach too. But I'm trying to figure out if I want to keep doing this. Is that normal? Did you ever feel like that?

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    1. Aw I love that comment from your student. I COMPLETELY agree with you that I love all the "other" roles better most days. Those are the times that I feel like I form a more personal connection with kids and have more of an ability to make a difference.

      A lot of years I start out not being too psyched about the my kids and classes but I feel like all the other roles can sometimes help me out as much as them. I've written many times that when a kids form a connection with you they perform better in class, but I also think it works the other way around too. The more that I connect with and learn about my kids, the more that I enjoy teaching them. As I get to know them better, I start to genuinely enjoy their company and I love the fact that I am able to help them out both personally and educationally.

      That said though, there are plenty of days where I come home and question why I'm doing this and feel like the worst teacher ever.

      What is it about being the teacher that you're not loving? Tough kids are always the most difficult kids to reach, but I promise that if you are able to actually reach them it is the kind of thing that can seriously change your life.

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    2. I just don't enjoy being up in front of my kids. A lot of it stems from the fact that in a 60 minute class period, 5-10 minutes are spent on warm-up, 10 minutes are gone if a kid needs to go to the bathroom because we HAVE to take the whole class (don't get me started), and 10 minutes to check agendas and stamp. Not to mention when my class gets talkative, and they won't quiet down for anything. I've tried waiting, I've tried counting, I've tried rewards in many forms, I've tried punishments.. I just feel like a glorified babysitter most of the time. Yet my principal keeps saying that we can't "blame the crops" (he's on this whole "sowing, growing, harvesting" theme.. we're farming the future) so basically everything is my fault. They don't turn in work and therefore are failing.. my fault. They don't practice their math and fail the test.. my fault. I'm terrified that they won't pass the CRCT at the end of the year, which they're required to pass in order to move on to 8th grade.

      I love being with my kids outside of the classroom aspect. I love this age group. I love watching a kid's face light up when I remember that he went out of town over the weekend or when I show up to their games unexpectedly. Bettyfm, I'm actually looking into getting a Masters in Counseling right now. I've talked with our school counselors and gotten in touch with some people who have recently gone through different paths to become a school counselor.

      I cannot believe I opened up that much to someone I've never met. But hopefully some outside perspective will help. Everyone says to give it one more year past this one, but I just don't know that I can make it through the end of this one!

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  2. Lynn, I have felt like that off and on my entire career. Have you thought about getting a Masters in Counseling? I did that and even though I've never been "the counselor", I've done plenty of counseling.

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