August 19, 2009

Getting Back

I am probably not as good as most teachers when it comes to "getting back into the teaching spirit." I do love to teach... just in-general... I love teaching things. I don't love some of the aspects of being a teacher: Paper work, motivating students, dealing with parents, dealing with discipline in the classroom, grading, more grading, confronting students on poor grades, etc. I don't hate these things, I just don't love them. In fact, I down-right dread some of them.

For example, I would love to be able to start the year by saying, "If you want to learn, or if you know that you need to learn this and have become resigned to doing it... then stay here. If you don't want to learn and are going to fight it every step of the way, I wish you weren't here. I would love it if you would change your mind, but if you won't, then I wish you would go." Of course, I can't do this, but I wish I could.

I admire those teachers that really get into it and passionately look for ways to motivate their students and find creative new ways to present the materials, but philosophically I don't believe that the biggest problems in education are the means or the methods, I believe that the biggest problems lie with the students. Not that the teacher or how the teacher teaches doesn't play a role, but there are students that will learn despite the teacher and there are students that will not learn in spite of the what that teacher does.

Does any of this make sense?

How does this play out? Well, I believe that one of the best things that you can do for a student is give clear instruction, have clear expectations, determine clear consequences, and clearly follow through. If they want to pass, whether it be for good reasons or bad, they will do what they need to do.

Does this work? I say yes! On one condition... Everything must be tempered with compassion. If you do these things with compassion, they fit and work in that everyday classroom situation. Then you don't get angry at the disruptive student, you simply say, "Well, you just earned yourself a detention... would you like another, or would you like to sit down and be quiet?"

This is a rash sort of post, but I just had a couple of things bouncing around in my head as I am trying to get back into the right frame of mind and I thought I would spew them out onto this blog.