Friday, February 15, 2019

A Challenging Stretch

The past month has been a challenging teaching stretch. Why?

I have a super class that is well loved and cared for. I have the materials and spaces I need to teach well. I have the experience to teach the subjects too. So why the fuss?

In thinking about this, I believe the challenge has been the fact that I can see so much more than I can do. I can see what we can do for our students who have less academic support at home. I can see what we can do for our students distanced from successful social situations. I can see what we can do if we had more support for optimal teaching particularly for students who have particular needs. I can see what we can do if we had more voice, choice, and leadership too. This vision sometimes serves as an anchor that both roots me and weighs me down.

We simply can't do it all, and for educators, since there's limitless opportunity out there, we are continually prioritizing about who and what will get our time and energy and who and what won't get our time. This can be excruciating when you can see so much.

That's why I have to continually hone the rules of the road to make the job manageable, doable, and best possible. What rules will I make that help to make the job manageable and positive.
  1. As far as support educators and the need we have for them in inclusion classrooms. I'll keep track of who comes and who doesn't. Rather than fret the no-shows, I'll collect the data to see what kind of an issue this really is. It may feel worse than it actually is. I'll also try again next year to work with my colleagues to make best-possible schedules for student support and services. 
  2. As far as oppressive mandates that don't include teacher voice, choice, and leadership in meaningful, positive ways. I'll listen. I'll respond. Then I'll do what I'm supposed to do in a way that's best for students. 
  3. As far as needs I can't reach, I'll reach out to let the leadership know that those needs exist and suggest some ways we might fulfill those needs. For example I offer extra help sessions regularly, but there's a small group of students that can never make those sessions. These are eager students who want to learn. Perhaps we can create better supports for these students to meet their eager readiness to learn.
  4. As far as curriculum prep and planning, I'll continue to organize the materials in ways that are easy to put together and foster in the days ahead when teaching these relatively new curriculum areas. 
  5. As far as outside school-related commitments, I'll continue to direct those in the areas of my greatest responsibility: math and science education.
  6. As far as advocacy goes, I'll center my advocacy on ideas that support better teaching and learning for students--using our time and resources wisely to promote the best possible education for each child. 
No teacher is super teacher. We're all compromised by systematic structures, time, energy, financial supports, but with good focus, good routines, good advocacy, and a growth mindset we can continue down the road to betterment.