Monday, May 9, 2016

Doing What Is Best, and Not What Is Easy

Saw this gem on Twitter today...

I am thinking about the teachers that just graduated from our program last week. I am grateful for the chance to work with them, to have deep conversations about what good teaching is all about, to mentor them. But I am also worried for them.

There is only so much I can do to help prepare them for the challenges they will face when they head into their classrooms for the first time in the fall. Oh, they are well prepared. They know their content. They understand effective assessment. They have practiced various pedagogical techniques in their methods courses and in student teaching internships. They are developing classroom management skills. They have had opportunities to learn ethical standards, and understand their legal rights and responsibilities, and develop a personal philosophy of education.

But now comes the hard work. They have to own it, and pull it all together in their own classroom.

There are going to be times when it will be easier to just settle. To settle for what is easy. To settle for less.

And I'm first year was rough. I came in so idealistic, ready to change the world, beginning with my classroom. This idealism was sadly short-lived; within a few days, the realities of just how incredibly challenging the teaching profession is began to sink in for me. With my idealism crashing down around me, I settled for survival. No longer was I trying to change the world...I was settling for far less than that. I even had some well-meaning colleagues encouraging me to settle this way: to not try to take too big of a bite, to be realistic about by own limitations, to just do the minimum required. And, sadly, I took this advice. I settled for what was expedient for me for those first few of years.

But I wasn't willing to stay there.

I had a nagging sense that I could do better, that I could be better. Settling may have been easier, but it's not what was best for the kids. And truly, it was not best for me either--I wasn't satisfied with just doing what was easy. I wasn't satisfied with settling.

Sadly, I suspect that many of these novice teachers may go through this same sort of thing. I am sure they will have some challenges and struggles, and their "growth areas" will be all too apparent to them. And they too may have colleagues who encourage them to settle.

However...I hope and trust that they too will get past this, and I pray that it happens more quickly for them than it did for me.

And I hope that they won't be afraid to be the elephant in the room if their veteran colleagues encourage them to settle--I hope they will stand up for what is best for the kids!

Image by Megan Coughlin [CC BY-SA 2.0]

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