Friday, September 30, 2011

Teaching Is Hard

Today was one of those days where I tend to forget all of the #whyIteach tweets and think, "What in the world am I doing here?" I know in my heart that teaching my kids web 2.0 tools so they can be more connected, letting them take charge of their learning, and helping them be more active leaders in the classroom are all the right things to do. But today? Today was ugly.

My kids are young, and I'm not sure how to teach them to be leaders when they've only ever been trained to be followers.

I'm giving them more freedom to take control of their learning, but they don't all use that freedom appropriately - even when given specific tasks to complete, they would rather play than learn. Is the playing valuable?

They hate doing worksheets and tasks that they don't care about so I give them choices, and I try to include topics that they want to learn about. Even when the topic is their choice some of them goof around. How do I help them see how valuable learning is?

Today at the end of the day, I just needed quiet. I'll admit, there were some tears. I know changing instruction is the right thing to, but I'm not sure I know how to do it. Last year the kids bought in, jumped on the bandwagon and rode the wave of excitement. These kids are excited, to a point. But then they kinda give up and do their own thing.

It will take time. They will get it. But right now I feel like a failure.


Mrs Ripp aka @pernilleripp said...

Becky, I don't know how many times I have felt like a failure as a teacher, particularly as I change things in my room. Things I would get so excited about would just fall flat or the kids would hate it or it wouldn't work and so on. It is natural to feel like a failure; it means you are passionate about what you are doing. Keep it up.


Maureen Devlin said...

Hi Becky, Why don't you pose the question to the students starting with affirmation of all that's been going really well, then posing your hope for even more shared learning with wonderful projects and activities. Then the question, how can we make that happen. They might amaze you with their responses. Best of luck as you continue the year--all teachers have been there particularly when we're trying new strategies. If you do this, I hope you'll post a comment and let us know what happens.

Mrs.Allen said...

I understand where you're coming from, Becky. Teaching in a non-traditional way with technology, hands-on, non-worksheet learning is so foreign to many of our students that it can be a frustrating process teaching them how to learn in this far more meaningful, engaging way. Don't give up, though! :) Our students need to learn how to think for themselves, become leaders, and become proficient with technology because that is what will help them prepare for their future. It's tough, exhausting, and sometimes it feels like you're going around in circles. HOWEVER, when the day comes when they finally show that they've learned even an inkling of what you've been trying to teach them, you will be so thankful you pulled through and never gave up. Your students are so lucky to have a teacher like you, so keep up the good work... and make sure to get PLENTY of sleep to keep your energy up for everything you plan to do with them. Happy teaching, reflecting, and learning! :)

~Sara Allen (@saraallen91 on Twitter...)

Becky Bair said...

Ladies, thank you so much for your comments! I know that others out there are going through the same things, but it sure was nice to hear it from each of you! I will not give up!!

Maureen, I have actually been doing exactly what you suggested on just about a daily basis. We talk about what worked well, what didn't, and how we might solve the problems. The kids brainstorm solutions (examples - the giant poster list of our morning routine in very specific colors they requested & extra action breaks on non-PE days), and then we pick the one that works the best and fits with the rules of our school.

You can just see they are so used to being told what to do and how to march that they are probably overwhelmed by the freedom. We will keep working together to solve problems, and I know if I'm persistent they will learn and it will get better.

Thanks again ladies!! You have pumped me up for Monday morning!