I don’t know where I went wrong. After all, in college, teachers loved my lesson plans and raved about my ability to connect with students. I graduated with a big heart and a big head. I was going to save the world. And yet, something didn’t click. In social studies last year I remember scolding my poor students because they were obviously uninterested. I kept telling them that this was important and they better listen, thinking that yelling at them would make them snap to attention. Or the student who once again didn’t do his homework, he got an earful as well because that would show him. Oh how off track I was.
It really hit home when I read a parent magazine last summer in which a question was posed, “My child dreads going back to school, what should I do?” The answer? “Remind them that they will see their friends and how much fun they will have during recess, art and music class.” Recess? Art? Music? What about writing, reading, math? What about the majority of the time? Would they be glassy-eyed robots just waiting for the next bubble of fun outside of my room? I had to change.
So I looked inward, reflected, and realized that i had it all wrong. School wasn’t about me, or about the knowledge I was going to impart on my students. Instead it is about them, the students Those eager kids that show up ready to learn if you let them. So I had to get out of the way while still acting as a guide. I have written many posts about my transformation and how much it has affected me as a person and as a teacher. Most importantly though it is through this transformation of my own ego that real change has happened. Now I look around my classroom and I celebrate. There is the girl who was too shy to even look at me busting out of her shell as she acts in a fractured fairy tale. There is the boy who barely could add two numbers nailing most math concepts. Or the shy and kind boy, who’s biggest wish now is to be on more committees so he can decide things. That is what it is all about. My students are ready for 5th grade, they are ready to leave me with their new knowledge, their energy, their inquisitiveness. I got out of the way and it worked. Now when I ask my kids what is the best thing about school they tell me it is all the learning, the projects, the work. Not recess, not the parties, not their friends, that is just extra. And what a victory that is.
So I will continue to change and adjust. I will continue to ask myself whether I would like to be my own student. It was not a pretty realization back then and it wont ever be but it was a necessary one. Now I am proud to say that yes, I would love to be a student in my own room, and not because of the teacher, but because of the opportunities to learn. Would you?