Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The trouble with Grad school in Education....

I’m having trouble coming up with original reflections because not a whole lot of class yesterday was spent talking about original or new things. The trouble with approaches classes is that there is just that: A LOT of talk. As an education major undergrad, I spent A LOT of time TALKING about the right way to do things. And you know what? If I’m completely honest with myself, I don’t think it did a whole lot of good. The problem with pre-service teachers like ourselves is that we think we have all the answers. We look at models of teachers and thinking like we can do better. It’s kind of like parenting I suppose. We spend a lot of time criticizing our parents for what we think they could do better, but as a non-parent, I can’t say that I would actually have done any different. And further, my friends that did just start having kids now say that they are a lot more forgiving of their parents. I went through a similar notion when I started teaching. I sat and I criticized my teachers (even my Spanish teachers) for what I thought they could be doing better. When I entered my practicums I sat in silent judgement of other teachers. He was too quick to react, or she is too nice/mean/crazy/unorganized/energetic/insert adjective here. But when I did start my ten weeks of full-time teaching, I can’t say that I did a much better job. I made all the same mistakes that rookie teachers make. I still do. I over plan, and don’t move fast enough, I don’t leave enough wait time, and I rush through the objective. I’m not sure why I’m remembering this now, but I think it is helpful to remember that it is really hard to TALK ABOUT APPROACHES when I haven’t actually APPROACHED anything real yet. Classroom talk is just that, talk. And I don’t find it helpful to talk with others who have had the same experiences in a university classroom as me but haven’t actually succeeded at teaching, like myself. Maybe yesterday just caught me in a really negative moment. But I do reflect on my classes that I teach after I teach them, and I do want to become a better teacher. I think I may be suffering from either “too much information” syndrome or “not enough real world experience” syndrome and my growth has kind of stalled or plateaued. There comes a time when one has to stop talking and start doing.
                I will use the line “papers are written from the middle out and syllabuses are written back and forth” in the future. I hate writing syllabuses. I absolutely dread it. The teacher in me loves the beginning of the year/session/semester. I absolutely love the new learning possibilities involved at the beginning of a semester. But the decisions I have to make in order to make a syllabus absolutely fill me with terror and anxiety. I have so many questions but when I ask the questions I look like I’m not a professional to my co-workers. I was told when I started teaching to “Fake it until you make it” but how much faking it do you really have to do until you really feel confident as a teacher? The syllabus I operate under now changes at least 5 times a session for some reason or another. Most of the time it is because students don’t do their homework so their progress slows and I can only meet them where they are at, so to speak. I can only hope this gets better with time, but how can it if I’m doing the same thing over and over and that same thing is wrong. After all, my piano teacher always used to tell me that practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. 
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