Saturday, March 23, 2013
Blog Post #9
The two posts I decided to read were Mr. McClung's summary of his first year as a teacher, What I've Learned This Year and his fourth year summary, What I Learned This Year-Volume 4.
I chose Mr. McClung's summary of his first year because I felt it would be relevant since I will be a first year teacher in the near future. Mr. McClung wrote a great blog. I am going to list what he discovered in his first year of teaching because I feel it needs to be repeated. These are the insights provided by Mr. McClung:
1)read the crowd
5)don't be afraid of technology
6)listen to your students
7)never stop learning
The overall message of Mr. McClung's blog is change. Know how to read your students to see if they are comprehending the material, if not, make a change. Be flexible because circumstances change and you will have to adapt your lesson plans as needed. Know how to communicate with your students, parents, and peers because lessons, activities, schedules, etc., are always changing and the best way to avoid "drama" is to keep communications open and honest. What expectations do you have of your students; is it reasonable? Mr. McClung reminds us not to forget we are teaching children and they think like children so don't expect them to be responsible adults. Evaluate your expectations and if they are too high or low, change them to meet the needs of your students so they can be successful. Technology changes constantly so get some good training wheels for the ride. Having a good support system will make riding on the path of technology a whole lot easier. Get to know your students, not just what they do in your classroom. Their interests seem to change on a weekly basis. Don't just hear what they say...listen. Kids know the difference and they relate it to whether or not the teacher cares.
So, as a teacher, what do I care about? This is the question Mr. McClung found he wrestled with during his fourth year of teaching. He found himself under the heavy weight of peer pressure. He realized he had become concerned with doing his job in a way that was pleasing to his peers instead of focusing on his students and what style of teaching met their needs. Mr. McClung reminds teachers to keep the focus on the students because they are the reason we do the job. He also says it is important for teachers to challenge themselves. Don't let your classroom become an assembly line of learning. In the system of education, sometimes teachers can become mechanical by sticking with the same patterns, the same lessons, and the same material, year after year after year. We place our students on the assembly line and we fill them with Math, English, History, Science, etc. and hope we give them enough to pass inspection so they can advance to the next graded assembly line. Establishing a lesson plan, gathering materials, determining the structure of the classroom; all these things take a lot of effort. Once teachers get things set the way they like them, it's hard to change because that's one less challenge in a system where there are so many other challenges to face. I say these things because I can see myself as one of those teachers who could very easily become comfortable with a routine and knowing exactly what I am going to teach year to year; reluctant to embrace change, too complacent to be challenged. When evaluating his fourth year as a teacher, Mr. McClung realized he had become this type of teacher and this is what he had to say, "This year I learned a valuable lesson in what can happen if you get too comfortable as a teacher; you start to get lazy and ultimately your lessons will start to suck, which then in turn means that kids are not enjoying your class." Mr. McClung needed a challenge, something to reignite his creativity and his passion for teaching and he got it. Originally, he had accepted an offer to change grade levels and teach a different subject but then he was asked to become the assistant principal at Leverett Elementary School in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I'm glad that Mr. McClung has the opportunity to face new challenges but not all of us will be presented with the opportunity to change subjects, classes, or schools. The reality is that some of us may be in the same classroom for the next thirty years. Are you up for the challenge? As Mr. McClung reminds us, keep the focus on the students and look for ways to keep your lessons fresh and exciting. I think the keys to success are to go back to Mr. McClung's reflections of his first year and focus on numbers 5, 6, and 7; Don't be afraid of technology, listen to your students, and never stop learning.
“To change and to change for the better are two different things.” – German Proverb