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.


  1. I am so glad you realized you should post it, Scott! In fact, I'm going to share it with my Early Childhood Ministry students. I know how much they will value your words.I, too, am a constant thinker/evaluator yet how wise you are to not allow that GIFT turn into rumination turning it into a negative rather than God using it for the good He intended when He knitted you together in your mother's womb for such a time as this! Having worked at a regional Education Service Centers with 36 districts in 8 counties, anyone willing to step in and learn all the new federal, state, local, & campus guidelines and still be on a quest of self-evaluation of your teaching and the students' responses is to be highly commended!!!! Your students are blessed indeed!

  2. I've been reading your blog this past year, and you have given me strength to keep going. Thank you. This is my first time back in a Kindergarten classroom in 17 years. I worked out the classroom and for the district during those 17 years. Teaching, especially in a public school, is hard work. Sometimes it's rewarding but most days, you want to beat yourself up. Your posts make me realize I'm not the only one. Thanks for sharing your most vulnerable thoughts. It gives me the courage to go back and do my best, even though I know it's not as great as I want it to be. I'm sure you are a great teacher. The sign of a great teacher/learner is knowing you are not perfect and learning from your mistakes.