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2.8 Years In, and Still Asking …

Am I any good at this? Should I even be in the classroom? Am I teaching for the right reasons? What are the right reasons?

After last week’s soul-searching regarding my generally grouchy demeanor, things have improved. As they say, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Pausing a second to call myself out on my bad attitude gave me some focus and clarity. Since then I’ve remembered to rely on my system of consequences and rewards*, and that has taken a lot of the frustration and headache out of my teaching.

That said, I still manage to feel totally out of my element on a daily basis. I would like to chalk some of that up to the anxiety and all-around unnatural instructional style of test-prep. But I know it’s more than that. Many of my math lessons seem to get bogged down, and at the end it seems likely the kids learned anything. If my science lessons aren’t experiments, I’m pretty much lost. I rely too heavily on the textbook (using it for a shared reading) but as much as I try to tackle the vocabulary and draw upon real life examples, the kids don’t show any signs of comprehension. In our discussions all the vocabulary words mix to form nebulous nonsense.

In my second year I finally felt I had a handle on classroom management. I thought this year the final pieces of instruction would fall into place. As far as reading, writing and social studies go I think they have. But my confidence in those areas only heightens my frustrations in math and science, not inconsequential subjects.

According to some, as a third-year teacher I’m allowed to still be figuring things out. I’m still a “novice.” But this is unacceptable for me. As someone who isn’t sure that teaching is a career, each year, each day really, is a fleeting opportunity to make a maximum impact. But as with the my attitude problem last week, I think acknowledging my instructional frustrations is a good first step. It’s not like I’m clueless about why my lessons are struggling, or how to fix them. Many of my lessons, if I’m honest with myself, have been lackluster, and with better planning that won’t be the case.

It may be almost May, but 2 months is really a lot of time. I’m hoping I can find the focus I need to make the most of it, and in doing so find some positive answers to the questions I keep asking.

*Catching up on sleep may have had something to do with it too.

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