Saturday, March 16, 2013
Listen: Give Me a Break
My word for this year is LISTEN. I'm working on listening and responding as I teach and learn.
I'm hard on myself. I want to be the best teacher I can be. And I've certainly fell short a few times (a LOT of times) this first year of my adventure in first grade.
There are so many things I didn't know. There are so many things I want to try, so many things I want to change, so many things I want to improve.
In my year of listening, I have been hearing people around me say one thing - give yourself a break. I've heard it from you, my blogging and tweeting friends. I've heard in from my colleagues on the first grade team. I've heard it from the best advisor I have - my wife.
My usual reply: "I know, but...." I'm such a reflector. I think and think and evaluate and ruminate and think about what I did, what I should/could have done, what I will do next time. That's good, but it cannot overtake what is happening now.
So this week, I decided to give myself a break. Hey, I'm a new first grade teacher. I've made it through three-fourths of the year. I'm still hanging in there and so are the students.
And they are actually learning stuff. Their reading has improved - sure, maybe everyone isn't at the "right" level yet...but they are progressing. (I think they may be at the "right" level for them at this point - at least most of them.) I listened as they explained what a table of contents is - they didn't know that before. I hear them call out, "Mr. Wiley, it's 1:30!!!" They didn't know time to half hour on our clock just a few weeks ago. I hear, "You're the best teacher ever!" just because we planted beans in cups of soil. Maybe I'm doing okay as a teacher.
I'll still reflect. I'll still make mistakes. I'll still want to improve. But I don't need to spend all of my commute home telling myself what a bad job I did that day. I'm a new teacher - learning how to make things work for me and my kids. So I'm going to give myself a break. I'm going to listen to those telling me that things will be better next year. Hey, I know they're better than the first week I was there.
The rest of the story--I thought about this blog post a few days ago and composed it in my head on my commute home. Then, at the end of the week, I had a FAIL. And I began to doubt that I should even do this post. But, I decided to give myself permission to actually make a mistake and learn from it. And I decided that this post should go on. I guess I can give myself a break.