When teaching a new skill, a new concept, anything, we do not expect the student to understand right away. Often we do not expect perfection on even the tenth time through. And yet I found myself this week, frustrated at how many areas of teaching I need to improve.
Discussing this frustration, with an impending test that can impact my pay scale, it was brought up that I would never expect my students to have it right the very first time through. Why do I expect anything different from my first year? Putting the experience so far in perspective, I have not taught through November, through Thanksgiving or other holidays, have not seen what happens after winter break. This is all new territory. As much as I have been learning and growing over the last three months, I do not have the experience with kids during other seasons, weather patterns, holidays, etc. No one expects that I will be perfect (far from it) in the first year, I need to give myself a little breathing room to enjoy everything that is coming.
It is difficult to remember not to beat yourself up at times. (Do those years of college and long discussions, ideas about education not count for any experience?) That moment of realization too late to change what was just said, fixing the lesson that just happened, reflecting on that discussion in a college course about something really important you just missed. After three months in other jobs, I had the system worked out, a few questions here and there. Not so with teaching. The most difficult is wondering whether or not I said the right thing in moments when students come to you to talk. Bullying on the playground, frustration over a game of four square, having a rough day because grandma passed away, or any number of other variables in life. I hope to be a positive influence and take these moments seriously. We must remember it is always up to the individual what they choose to take from what others say.
The last part is time and energy. Monday through Friday I am at school from 6:30am until usually 5:30-6:00pm. Prepping, writing and reworking lessons, adding music terms to my walls, keeping track of band attendance, finding music to sing, listen to, play instruments with, and I could keep listing the massive variety of tasks. Nearly twelve hours and when I am home, there is not much energy left to focus on anything besides some shows on Netflix. I still think about school, in fact most nights I’ll wake up around two or three with thoughts running through about the next day. I catch myself being bummed about not taking that down time and turning it into more work time. Why should I have a life, I have students that need to learn!
A little perspective to keep me sane. We are not infallible. Humans need to recharge and cannot work nonstop forever. Be positive about all the new experiences as they unfold and take time to appreciate the growth. Allow time to be the student, learn and keep trying until it is right. Then be flexible to make it work for whoever you have in front of you!