Monday, November 2, 2009

"To thine own self be true... or something like that."

Goal of the week: "Stop belly-aching." 'Nuff said.

Thought of the day: "To thine own self be true... or something like that."

As I sit in my room, I think about the last few weeks and what hasn't been working in my classroom. The list is a long one and I'm really not happy about it. Lately, I've been wondering why I'm even in this program if I'm such an ineffective teacher. These students have seen a lion's share of ineffective teachers and teaching practices up to this point and I don't want to be another name added to that list.

However, I remember what I did last year and how many students I got on board with the idea that school can be a meaningful thing in their life. I had students tell me that I was their favorite teacher because they actually learned things. When I see my old students today, they run up to me and tell me how happy they are to see me. Where is the disconnect?

My future in this program is not assured. My health issues have made it so that I'm exhausted even more than I was last year (as a first year teacher) and my emotions are all over the place. I've been considering leaving teaching to those that know what they're doing and going back to research, where at least I was competent at my job even if I didn't enjoy it.

I ask myself this at night (when I'm not dreaming about my classroom) - is it right to stay in a profession where you enjoy it if you're not good at it? Or should I go back to something I was good at even if I hated the tedium of it? What is my main goal here with my students? Do I want to help them receive a positive school experience and learn to trust themselves and their intelligence or do I want to push the state standards and succeed at what my bosses and overseers at my Graduate School call "closing the achievement gap?" What is the main goal?

I have had so many people tell me what I need to be doing and what I need to be focusing on that my head is spinning. Other than the nebulous "closing the achievement gap," I've been told conflicting goals from my superiors. Or rather, that how exactly to close the achievement gap is something that no one can agree on. Some say rigorous instruction and adherence to the state standards. Some say that I need to not focus as much on the standards because they're set up to fail due to there being too many of them. Others thing that getting the kids on board with their own education and realizing that it can be positive is the way to go. Then there's the belief that the students need stability in an insane world and that we need to provide them with consistent and fair rules to help them want to come to school. Which is correct, I don't know. I do know that I've been trying to do all at once and failing miserably. I think I need to go with one and just try to do this my own way.

Multitasking has never worked for me. I should try to remember that my greatest gift to my students is myself - I need to be myself because when I do that I love my job and love them.

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