It has been far too long since I have posted here, and for that I am sorry.  To tell you the truth I have been busy, but more than I busy I can admit that I have been a bit down on myself.  I still have so much to do to become the nguyeningest teacher that I want to be, and I have been a bit under a rock by recognizing that I am not there.

We can talk a big game on these blogs and share all these awesome lessons that work (when they work), but even those great ideas can fall or be used improperly, or rushed to the point that no meaning is taken from them.  I am a the point right now where I find myself trying to catch up to all the curriculum that needs to be done, and I don't like that, but I have a professional responsibility to make sure that kids are prepared, so I have to work better and harder than I do at this point.  Have I led students through inquiry? Are they engaging with their world?  Why can't I be more like (insert awesome blogger/teacher/awesome person name here)?  I feel as though I am not measuring up, and that's a hard place to be.

So I am introducing volume and I asked them to notice and wonder, and this is what I got...
This board of notice and wonder seemed a little too good to be true, so I asked the class (a class who I trust to be honest) this:*  
Raise your hand to vote.  Here are your two options: Did you notice or wonder because you actually want to know, or did you notice and wonder this because you think it is what I want you to notice and wonder?
The majority of the students put their hand up for option A.  They looked at pop-cans and wanted to know legitimately awesome things.  They were curious, and they were taking it seriously.  They had cool discussions on why the companies would make these decisions.  Now granted, we have talked about pop companies before when we did surface area, and I walked them through that, BUT I can see that they have caught a bit of this math bug.  They have caught a bit of the curiosity that I had when driving home and watching road lines whiz by.

I am not a perfect teacher by any means.  I lose control of my class. I take forever to assess.  I give them notes, and I even *dun dun dun* lecture.  Not every class is inquiry based.  I am not always fully prepared.  I am very disorganized. I have more faults than I care to name, but somewhere, hidden under the heap of my self-deprecation is something that has attracted kids toward curiosity. We often say to ourselves "If I but do this ONE thing, it will have all been worth it."  Today this board represented my one thing.  Today I saw that I am not in the wrong profession; I am not the worst person in the world; I am not a terrible teacher. Today I cast off my self-deprecation and embrace encouragement.

*Keep in mind this is ONE of my classes.  My morning class was not as indepth.


02/21/2013 9:16pm

I'm sorry that I can't identify with anything you've said in this post. I mean I'm pretty awesome at this thing called teaching; and all my students will tell you the same. They ask amazing questions, so well behaved, come to class prepared and eager to learn, their parents think I'm pretty great too.

Okay, really. I'm full of shit. Timon, I know you wrote this post for yourself because it feels good to get it on down on paper, but it resonates with ALL of us. You are an incredibly gifted teacher. Do you know how I know that?

Well, just listen to your mom.

02/22/2013 10:15am

Thank you for sharing this honest reflection. Teaching is an interesting profession in that it isn’t easy to measure one’s effectiveness. Great real estate agents sell the most houses. Great surgeons save the most lives. Great chefs have the most customers. What are the signs of a great teacher? I certainly agree that one’s worth should not be solely measured by blog posts and lessons. Definitely implementation issues will always exist and there will always be room for improvement. Again, that is an interesting aspect of the teaching profession in that things are rarely black and white.

The Internet breaks down the walls of the groups you define yourself by. For example, you are always the best teacher in your classroom. You strive to be one of the best teachers in your school and maybe district. Prior to social networking, that was about as far as you could compare yourself. However now you can compare yourself to everyone in the world and you get phrases like trying to “become the nguyeningest teacher that I want to be.” We all totally get this. It is challenging to learn from others and yet not be burden by the fact that you are not already doing the X, Y, and Z that others appear to be accomplishing.

The last thing I will say is about perspective. Humans are bad at perspective. Your children look the same way they have always looked until you see a picture from several years ago and you realize how much they have truly changed. Similarly, we don’t recall how far we’ve come as teachers. Consider that you exposing students to a deeper understanding of volume. You could be ONLY teaching volume by giving students a formula and a picture with measurements. What you are doing is great!

We are all in this together. We have great intentions and we are making progress. Keep it up.

02/22/2013 3:17pm

If we define a "perfect teacher" as one with no faults, then how are the students to learn it's okay to have faults? Yet if we don't define "perfect teacher" that way, then said teacher must have faults, and not be perfect. Hence there is no such thing as a perfect teacher, QED.

So yeah, I suspect you echo the sentiments of a lot of other teachers in that post. Here's the thing though, don't forget it's okay to be yourself too. Even before the social networking aspect (as referenced in that prior comment), I was pretty certain that I wasn't ever going to be the best teacher in my district. So I'm sure as heck not going to be in the top 100 in my province (state), let alone the world.

I'm average. I'm weak at inquiry based activities, I'm not yet on board with three act lessons, and it takes me three times as long to mark on levels as my colleague three desks down. Does that make me a bad teacher? Sometimes, I think, yeah, it does. Other times, when a student says I'm really good at explaining concepts, I think no it doesn't... it just makes me different. And average.

So take heart - the very fact that you're striving for such greatness puts you ahead of me. I'm over here saying "As long as I DON'T do something TOTALLY moronic, we'll call it a win". And I'm okay with that.



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