Wednesday, September 30, 2009

it's only been five weeks. good grief.

anyone who points to summers off as a reason that teaching is easy should be punched in the teeth.

today, i wonder if i'm cut out for small rural community college teaching.

my expectations seem to be too high, even when i'm trying to lower them to more adequately meet their achievement level.  and i really am.  i'm changing my lesson plans, including more workshoping time, and trying to take everything much more step-by-step.  i am, essentially, trying to move to their level and take them, incrementally, up to the level that i want them to go. i really want them to be successful, but for me successful means that you build the skills that you need. it doesn't mean easy.

it's frustrating to realize that, regardless of what i do, their choices can thwart my plans. 

for example, i sort of expect that students will do the assignments or, if they don't, at least pretend that they have.  nope.  they just sort of stare at me with nothing on their desks, no desire, it seems, to engage in the activity, the sole purpose of which is to help them be successful. 

i sort of expect that students won't loudly complain, to my face and in my classroom, about the paper lengths over and over again, as if i have asked them to murder their mothers.  nope.  one class did that quite loudly this morning.

the flip side of this is the shining star students who sit quietly, seem to soak up everything i say like a sponge, and do their work. these are the students that never show up without a book or a homework assignment, who email me to clarify assignments with thoughtful questions, who always have a response when a question is asked--and the response is almost always exactly what i'm looking for. these are the students who, even if their writing is not great, demonstrate a desire to learn that makes everything worth it.

i have some of those. i really do.  i know it.  days like these, though, make me wonder if i'm cut out for this job and make me wish very much that it wasn't essential to our survival for me to continue doing it.  days like these make me want to quit. 

i won't quit, of course, for many reasons. today i'll tell myself it's the money, but realistically it's that i can't quit until i feel successful and i know, deep down, that five weeks does not a true snapshot of skill make.  

i'm not saying all of this for someone to tell me that i'm good at what i do. i know that i'm good at what i do.  i'm just saying it to say it, because it needs to be said.  i need to say that i'm frustrated.  i need to say out loud that no matter how hard i try or work, nothing seems to really improve, that right when i feel like i have broken through some sort of barrier and figured out how to get through to my students, something else fails to work.  i need to say that i have never had such an odd assortment of problem students in my life all at the same time--the egotistical sleeper, the disinterested brick wall, the loud complainer, the participator who speaks just to hear himself speak, the constantly absent, the constant emailer.  i need to say that my bag of tricks feels pretty empty, despite my efforts to keep filling it up.

i need to say that i'm tired and that i'm doing my level best.  i don't understand how that's not really paying off. 

but i expect my students to be okay with challenging, so i guess i need to be okay with it too.  today, in the face of the complaints about paper length, i told them that they had to believe that they could do it before they could. i said that if they kept on saying they could never meet that page length then, of course, they would never meet it. confidence is the first step, i said.

so let me practice what i preach.  i'm a good teacher.  i was born to teach. so for every perplexing challenge they throw my way, for every potential problem, i will seek an equally creative solution.  and i can do that because i've done it before and i'll do it again.

and i guess i'll keep telling myself that until i believe it.

No comments:

Post a Comment