Paranoid Android

12 Comments

MarvinToday would have been a regular day at the office, had it not been for a terrible observation and an overall feeling of listlessness from yours truly. For the first time since last year, I was reminded why 40% of new teachers leave after their fourth year. Even the most patient and prepared among us can only handle so much damage to our mainframes. I felt I did all I could to get ready for this observation, which of course centers around having a good lesson plan. It’s my best feature, and the minutiae surrounding it (classroom decor, portfolios, journals) are developing everyday as I get more perspective from other teachers and fellow bloggers as to the best strategy for how to approach these facets of the educational experience for the children. Even with the massive kudos I get for my classroom management, I still have those nasty off-days that let me know how far I still have to go in my profession.

I looked at all the factors that played into my observation today: kids still antsy from lunch, their bloodstreams pumped with large-sized Jolly Ranchers and carbonated drinks, lack of chemistry, completely brainwashed by MySpace and television. Of course, I could also look at my own lesson plan, but I honestly feel it was less of a factor because, according to my data and my own personal observations, the first class I did the lesson with is much weaker mathematically. Of course, estimating square roots isn’t for the mathematically disinclined. However, I strive to give multiple representations for the children to understand on different levels. My first class understood that; my second class plunked, minus a few. And interestingly enough, these few kids have the few factors my first class had today: concentration, lack of candy, and cohesion.

My girl says I’m being hard on myself, and she’s right. Yet, if I’m not my worst critic, then who will be? I’m constantly finding ways to become better, more prepared, and more helpful towards my students, and most of them recognize it, even unconsciously. I don’t waste much time. If I’m not grading work, I’m assessing data on them. If I’m not calling parents (7 “needs improvement” calls followed by 3 “your student’s doing great but don’t tell them” calls), then I’m assisting another teacher with my homeroom. I come in 30 minutes early to school, and even ask my APs and fellow teachers to bounce ideas. I’m always receptive to new ideas and finding better ways to assist my children, but days like these really make me wonder if this is all for naught.

So tomorrow’s Friday, and indeed, that’s what I’ll need.

jose, who will work it, make it, do it, makes me harder, better, faster, STRONGER!

p.s. – Peace to the Columbus Education Association Blog for making my blog part of the 153rd EduBlog Carnival.

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Jose VilsonParanoid Android

Comments 12

  1. Frumteacher

    Guess we shared a wave of negativity this Thursday (see my post).
    In a way I guess this is what we need in order to stay fresh, in order to keep investigating how to make ourselves into better teachers, the way you write.
    But honestly, it’s not always easy to look at it this way. On days like these I wonder why I didn’t choose the easy way out, and choose a different profession.

  2. Marty

    So, are you a full time teacher or a student teacher doing observations/teaching before graduation? What grade(s)? Hang in there man. It’s a new semester so great things can still happen.

  3. Shelly

    Sounds like you ARE being EXTREMELY hard on yourself Jose, but… I understand what that’s like. People who are great at what they do are always their own worst critics… One must always keep striving for ways to become more proficient and excel-lent in any endeavour, professional or otherwise. At least if you’re serious about progressing in said endeavour.

    Much love to you Jose and keep up the great work (but yeah maybe relax a little from time to time as well…) :-)

  4. pissedoffteacher

    I’ve had many of those days but my lessons were always given Satisfactory because of my rapport with students.

    I’m sure yours are the same, or better.

    Don’t despair. This won’t be your last bad lesson and you are getting better every day. Some times things just don’t go your way, no matter what you do.

  5. Post
    Author
    Jose

    Frum, So true, but again, that’s what the reflection process is for.

    Marty, 3rd year, man. Welcome to the blog :-)

    Shelly, I’ll do what I can. Relaxing will definitely be done this weekend.

    P.O., I’ll try not to despair, but it’s the perfectionist in me, I guess.

    e, yes yes yes. maybe someday I’ll believe what you do ;-) …

  6. DMB

    Yeah, I agree with everyone else. Being way too hard on yourself, Homeslice. Do something totally NON TEACHER RELATED when you can to recharge your batteries so that you don’t burn out. Once you burn out, it becomes easier and easier to reach that state again and then bitterness sets in.

    You want to avoid that. Remember, you’re only human.

    The thing about teaching is that we often don’t see the fruits of our labor WHEN we expect to see them. They often pop up at the weirdest times, in the most surprising ways, but they all tend to say the same thing:

    “You made a difference in my life. You taught me something. Thank you.”

    You probably have no idea how many lives you are changing right now.

  7. DMB

    By the way, here’s a little old school teacher’s trick for your next observation.

    Schedule it so that it is a day when your students present their projects (semester projects, or any long-term or short-term project that you have assigned).

    WORKS LIKE A FRIGGIN’ CHARM!!!

    The administrators like to see student-oriented lessons and you just sit back and enjoy the show. Let the students show off their work and of course, you can prompt a couple of the kids (or yourself) to ask some relevant questions about each project which the presenting students themselves have to answer.

    Never fails to get a glowing report! Everybodys happy. And then you can move on to the REAL business of your job–impacting the students!

  8. Post
    Author
  9. luzmaria3

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes we are our own worst critics. Relax, breathe a little, and of course believe that you are giving your kids the best that you possibly can. We can’t control all the factors in our classrooms even though many perceive us to do so. I think that the reality factor is the one charactersitic administrators have forgotten to look at when they go and observe teachers and their respective students. Learning is messy and chaotic at times. Students will either be “on” or “off” depending on the many factors which affect their lives on a daily basis. You are doing a fantastic job Mr. V. Don’t ever forget that!

Leave a Reply