I've come to a realization about myself that I don't like very much. Something that I've thought about often, but brushed off because I didn't want to face the reality of it. And, because I just don't want to believe it.
I'm not the "Amazing Teacher" I thought I was.
The teacher that sees the potential in every single student that walks in to her room. The teacher that spends hours going over mock MAP tests to find the weak spots that need attention. The teacher that is convinced she can get students to care about their education, work hard, and overcome all of their obstacles. And the key word in all of that is "thinks"... I think that I can do that, and that it will all just come naturally... because I thought it was what I was born to do, and I would be the commander of the Ship of Success.
I walked in to my classroom for the very first time in August, 2012. I walked in convinced that I was going to change the world, that I was going to mold minds, inspire creativity, inspire motivation in students that were running on empty, create the most wonderful lesson plans, and become a teacher that would be remembered by her students forever.
And, I have to say, that pretty much all of last year I think I did a pretty good job of that. I had a hand in bringing some students out of their shells, helped them discover their potential, and listened to them in order to build lessons and projects that motivated them... because they were all based on their weaknesses AND their strengths. They succeeded when they thought they'd fail. They solved problems they thought were impossible to solve. Many walked in to my classroom with little motivation, but left with a passion and drive that I hear is still right there with them now that they are in 5th grade.
That's awesome. Something I'm very proud of, especially being that last year was my first year teaching.
But, this year is different. I've broken one of the main cardinal rules when it comes to being a teacher.
I expect this year, and my current students to be the same. However, I've recently realized I've dropped the ball on one important factor.
I expected them to come to me with the same drive and passion as I had last year from those students. I forgot what I did to encourage my last class. I forgot what I started out with, and how I turned things around.
All I've ended up doing this year is becoming a nagger. A whiner. A negative Nelly.
I have so many kids in my class, and the work is too hard for them... WAAAAHHHH!!!
I'm being pulled in 50 different directions, and I don't know which way is up.... WAAAHHH!!
My kids can't all read the text in the book, so how can they do the work that goes with it? WAAAHH!!!
I'm falling behind the other teachers, and can't fit in as much as they are doing...WAAAHHHH!!
Boo, freakin, hoo.
That's me in a nutshell this year. Whine, whine, whine.
And I've become the queen of negative speeches.
"You don't want to do the work? FINE!! But, don't come crying to me when you have an F on your report card"
"You 'forgot' your homework? FINE!! You will sit out your recess!"
"You don't want to listen while I'm reading the stuff from the textbook? OK, but let's see how well you do on answering the questions that go with them!"
THAT'S NOT WHO I AM!!!
I hate the fact that I'm just now realizing this. Well, that's not true, it's been niggling at me for a while now. I hate the fact that it's taken this long to stand up and realize where I'm going wrong.
I'm trying to be somebody I'm not.
Last year, I created my own units, my own lesson plans, came up with my own ideas on how to teach what I needed to teach. But this year, I've taken the easy way out. I've aligned myself with what the other teachers are doing... how they are teaching, with the same resources they are using. I didn't want to be the odd one out. I didn't want to feel like I was "rebelling" against the grade level. I didn't want to upset the veteran teachers who have been teaching long enough for me to know that they are DAMN good at their jobs, and if they can be with how they are doing it.. then I should be able to do it, too. Right?
My teammates are a master of their craft.
They make teaching look easy. They have a gift for being able to do what they do with precision and perfection. And, I admire that.
But, unfortunately, that's just not me. I am new. I am not a master of the craft. And, I'm not accustomed to doing things they way they do it... so instead I end up making myself feel like a failure and a whiner.
So, it's time to stand up and face the music.
If my kids can't do what I'm asking them to do... then I need to ask them to do something different. If my kids aren't motivated to learn what I'm teaching... then I need to teach differently. If my kids are finding no joy or excitement in their learning... THAT'S MY FAULT!!
And it's OK.
If I have to reinvent the wheel so that I can make my kids drive... then reinvent I shall.
If I have to move away from what everyone else is doing, because it's not working for my kids... then move away I shall.
If I'm spending everyday whining and crying because I'm stressed... then, it's up to me to figure out how to stop that and do something about it!
That is exactly what I'm going to do.
I can be an amazing teacher. I was born to be an amazing teacher. But, when I forget that it's the students that make that decision, I am no longer an amazing teacher.
I will be, I just have to do the work to get there.