Careful, The Stage Is Slippery; However, The Show Must Go On

I have been providing you with more fun entries lately, but in this one I really want to shed some light on what I feel is important.  I hope that you will take away something positive from this entry, but if the following bores you, I am sorry; I feel as though it is important to share some things that I have noticed.

After spending 2 weeks in an urban classroom, I have made a lot of adjustments in my views of what teaching is, how to be a good teacher, and how to make a positive impact in students’ lives.  The fact of the matter is teaching is not as easy as you think it is.  I have many friends that are in engineering, and other ridiculously hard majors, that tell me my classes are easy and that I should not be complaining about my workload.  Well let me tell you something, teaching is not easy, not in the slightest bit.  Is it fun and rewarding, absolutely, but only if you work hard at it, it doesn’t come easy, just like everything else in life.

I think that I should share the 3 things that I feel are the most important concepts that I have learned about teaching in the past 2 weeks.  I obviously do not know everything about teaching, but I feel as though I have vastly improved my knowledge about what is crucial and what can be placed aside during teaching.  I challenge everyone that reads the following to respond, tell me what you think.  I want to know if you agree or disagree, and if you do disagree tell me why and what you would change.  I feel it would be really valuable for both parties that are involved.

The first thing that I have learned is that when you are trying to manage your classroom there are 2 important things that you need to possess and display to your students.  The first if these is that you need to show that you care.  You need to care about the students, you need to care about the material, and honestly you need to care about yourself.  Each and every student needs to be cared for, and I have seen that strongly displayed throughout my classes.  My students act out a lot, they are loud and that could seem disruptive, and it is, but that is not the only thing that it is, there is a lot that is under the surface.  I did not buy that fact until I heard about the horrible home lives that a lot of my students have, and how that the attention they get here, be good or bad, is the most of the fulfilling moment of the day. You need to care about the subject; I have seen the students not care about other subjects in my school because the teacher does not care.  If you want your students to respect you and the class, you need to care about the knowledge that you are feeding them.  And, for real, don’t laugh or brush this off, you need to respect yourself.  You need to be confident in your abilities, and you need to be strong in your discipline.  I am the type of person that hates to be “mean” to other people.  I cannot do it.  It pains me inside, and that really hindered me earlier in the week.  The kids didn’t respect me because I did not respect me, and that was a problem.  As soon as I started to trust myself, the class respected me a lot more.

The second thing with classroom management is that you cannot relax.  My teacher, albeit a really good one, specifically at classroom management, told me that he has not been doing as well because he is getting laid off, and it shows.  Each day the kids have gotten worse and worse, because they get away with more and more.  It is really hard for me to sit back and watch as all my students talk, yell even, to others across the room, while taking a test.  But it is his class, and I can see that this is a valuable lesson.  I just need to learn from it and never give up, never back down.

The second thing that I have learned is that every student can do all the work.  All my students are smarter than they display to an outsider, they just put on a fake skin, a label that they feel they have, that they need to be dumber to fit the stereotype.   I hate this.  When I actually worked with my students, one-on-one or in small groups, I have found that they are more than capable of doing work correctly.  I feel as though the most important thing to do is show the students why the work is necessary, why they need to try and put in effort.  If I can successfully convey to them the importance of math skills, not necessarily being able to graph a parabola, but the fact that by doing the worksheets you can enhance your critical thinking skills, which will help you in other aspects in life, aspects that you think are actually fun and important.  In my practicum classes, the students have yet to be given a reason why they are doing these problems, and because of that the students are not trying to work any harder, actually they are doing less and less work, as the work gets harder and harder.  It really frustrates me that the students do not care, because I know that these young men and women can do all the work, but they just will not try.

The third important thing that I have learned it that by involving students into your lessons, the more beneficial for the students, and actually fun, the lessons become.  The students in my classes are bored a lot of the time and that is why they become distributive.  Whenever I allowed my students to come up and use the white board, two things happened.  One is that more problems were completed, and because of this number two occurred, which was that the students were more engaged.  When these two things happened, my students were smiling more, talking yes, and seemed to be having a good time.  And, if you ask me, when was the last time you had a good time learning math?  That was probably the coolest part for me of this whole experience, seeing my students enjoying mathematics.  I feel as though if students are more hands on involved with the lessons, they take away much more because they feel as though they were able to express themselves and prove not only to me, but also to their classmates, and more importantly themselves that it is actually okay to be correct, and that is feels good when you have a correct answer.

I have learned that I have potential to be a great teacher.  I have the drive, I have the determination, and I have the adaptability to be open to new ideas and techniques; however, I have also learned that I need to work on a lot of things.  I need to be more assertive; I need to get over that fact that being stern and strict is not being mean.  I need to learn that not every student is going to like you and be happy with you all the time.  I need to learn that being a teacher only begins with the material in the book, it doesn’t end until you want it to.  I want to learn how to push myself to allow my students to reach higher and higher levels of learning in both the school and the world environments.

No matter what I want to be the bests teacher, role model, and difference maker I can be in each of my students lives.  That is the sum everything that I feel I have learned during the experience.

And no matter what…

The Show MUST Go On.