Cameroon 2009

Cameroon 2009

Monday, October 7, 2013

Too much of a good thing

I followed a link on Twitter to a blog written by someone I take to be a relatively young teacher.  In her latest post, she is lamenting that while she finds Twitter and other online sources of PD to be really valuable, they often also leave her with a feeling of inadequacy.  My own experience on Twitter is that there are a lot of posters who, without likely meaning to, suggest that there is something wrong with others who are not sufficiently "progressive", who haven't yet gotten with the program.  As this young lady says, no grades (ever) and no worksheets (ever) "may" be a desirable state of affairs, but they're not realities in her world at this point.  It's worth remembering that there are a lot of people who have had "the" answer before, and they've been wrong.

I wrote the following comment after her post, and thought to myself that maybe this was my newest post for this blog:

Hi Rachel.

You bet it's tough to do the job that you're doing. It's completely natural to feel the way that you're feeling now, and you'll probably feel like that from time to time, even often. On some of my best days, right after the students left after the last class, I'd slump for a moment with my head on my counter, feeling like I might not have the energy to get up. To say that teaching is enervating and exhausting at the same time is not an oxymoron.

I'm relatively new to Twitter, and only a week into blogging, and can relate to that feeling of inadequacy. I've been a principal now for 4 years, after 26 years of teaching. Still, after what most would describe as a very successful career, I often feel like I just can't do enough, or do it well enough. Many of those you're likely following have been out of the classroom for a while, sometimes a long while, and are forgetting the realities of the classroom - I know that I am. It's easy to present the latest and greatest ideas, and to give off a vibe of, "come on, there's nothing to it" or that you must not care if you're not on board. Remember that they almost surely mean the best, but that may not come through in posts and comments.

Are you trying, in the time you have available, to get better, to learn and to grow? Your blog, what I saw in your work to redesign your classroom learning environment, suggests that you certainly are. You won't get it all right, at least I hope not, because the best learning comes from getting it wrong, then refining, revising or just trying something different until you get it right. But it's not easy, and it doesn't always feel good.

Teaching is not, ever, something done perfectly. As you stated, there are those who should not be doing it, for whatever reasons. The rest of us, though, are doing the greatest work in the world, and will have a damnably tough time seeing it and feeling it on a daily basis. One of my favourite quotes sums up how I see this profession as a way to express my faith in the eventual positive influence we have on the future, through our kids: 
“Do not let the fact that things are not made for you, that conditions are not as they should be, stop you. Go on anyway. Everything depends on those who go on anyway.” – Robert Henri

Take care of yourself. :)

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