Day 24: The Selfishness of Teaching #Aprilblogaday Challenge

Missteps: if you could go back and do something differently in your classroom/with a student/with a colleague what would you do?

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The short answer is: Everything.  While there have been a lot of RIGHT moves, there are more WRONG ones, which is why I keep coming back.  This is one of the things I love about teaching: each September is a chance to step into a classroom with a new crop of kids and try again to figure out what it means to get it right.   Part of me hopes I never figure it out.  Maybe that is the selfish part of teaching- knowing that it won't every be perfect but the experience of trying is what makes things better. Experience can be painful, brutal, but it makes us who we are each time we step into our rooms. 

Hindsight is 20/20, right?  If I say to myself, I should have done ______, the reality is: what did happen would not have.  For example: part of me knows I should have left my first school at the end of year 4.  Year 5 was painful both professionally and personally.  However, if I had left a year sooner I would not have found AFSE and embarked on the journey I am on now.  

As classroom teachers, part of us must be selfish.  Our students can tell when we teach something we don't love.  They are sensitive, like bees and dogs. The pick up on things.  This is why teaching content we love always translates so much better in the classroom.  Maybe this is easier for high school teachers (this is what I have always taught- outside of my student teaching placements).  I know the Gender and Language unit I do with AP Lang is by far my favorite.  I love that it provokes and gets them thinking in ways they never could have prepared for.  It is the unit that my students talk about with the rising juniors that they fear the most. Which I love.

After my first of two surgeries this year,
I returned to this poster hanging in my classroom. 
Always find the words.
Here is what I do regret:  conversations never had.   Moments when I wish I had said something and I didn't.  Students I wish I had told how proud of them I was, but something got in the way.  Maybe it was my own insecurity, my own fears (again, being selfish).  I have had many powerful conversations over the years.  There are students who have passed away far too soon that I wish I had spent more time with.  As a cancer survivor I know better than some that time is precious.  Have the tough conversations.  Don't be afraid to reveal what you don't know in an effort to become a better version of yourself.  These risks are worth it. The brutality of experience is worth it.  Dive in.


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