Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not Alone

My university class required me to observe in other classes. I arranged for a substitute teacher on one day and observed in the other second grade classes.

I did see some things that I may want to incorporate in my classroom. I was reminded of a few things that I have done and want to do again. I recognized some of the things I'm doing in my class that are working. I saw that I may be doing some thing as well or better than my colleagues (at least as they happened on this day).

But--by far--the most important lesson I learned was this: those teachers are struggling with some of the same things I'm struggling with. It's not just me. I'm not alone in over-talkative students with wandering attention spans.

Often I look at what happens in my classroom and wonder what I'm doing wrong. I think that all the other classes are just humming along while mine seems to be more like limping along. While there are things that I need to do better (and will do better as I gain more experience), some things are always going to be challenges.

I think that many classroom teachers feel that their struggles and challenges are unique. After all, the classroom the teacher sees every day is his own. We may see snippets of other classes--the class moving through the hallway or working in the library, a glimpse in the classroom of students working as we walk by, and so forth. But to really see how the classroom works is to watch a whole day - actually to watch several days would be better.

I was reminded that all teachers have challenges. All teachers are working to improve their classroom atmosphere or presentation or engagement. (Or at least the better teachers are doing so.)

Visiting the other classes showed me that I'm doing some things right and that I'm facing common issues. Maybe that's the best professional development time I've spent in a while.

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