Monday, September 21, 2009

Follow Through

Last year as I began the year I was wrestling with a lot of assumptions that were based on my experience student teaching and substitute teaching. The problem with these assumptions were that many of them were wrong and/or applied to a vastly different setting. The result of many of these assumptions and my presumed success as a student teacher left me incredibly confident. That, paired with my inexperience with the urban population my students were part of, led me to make a major mistake: telling students how I was going to act and what I was going to do to help them and being able to follow through with those statements.

It is impossible to know exactly what to do on the ground if you haven't already been there. Telling students exactly what you are going to do for the entire year when you have no real experience is ludicrous. It writes your own sentence on the wall and paints you into a corner that's very difficult to get out of.

An example of something I promised last year was that I wouldn't be absent a single day. Because I hadn't missed a single day as a student teacher or substitute teacher I made the assumption that I could make it the entire year without missing day. Clearly this is a stretch, especially for a first year teacher who will almost definitely become ill at least once during the year. I had to leave school early and call in one day last February because I was deliriously sick. I barely made it home from school, nearly passing out on the train and on a platform when transferring, which could have been pretty bad news.

It may seem pretty commonsensical, but make sure that you do not make a single promise unless you are absolutely sure you can keep it. Don't say things like all papers will be graded and returned the next day or that you're going to take every student who finishes all their homework to the movies. That's unrealistic, and the first time you don't follow through with what you say you're students will call you out on it and their trust in your word will be shattered, sometimes permanently. Many of these students have been lied to by adults all of their lives. If you follow suit I can guarantee you'll lose those students and the chances of you getting them back are slim.

Today's Wine: Dry Creek Old Vine Zinfandel. A lot of people hear the word "zinfandel" and assume the wine is a terribly pink, terribly sweet beverage that a lot of "wine weenies" (as my own parents have dubbed themselves) drink to show their friends they can drink wine like adults. Zinfandel is in fact a legitimate variety and the old vine zins that I've had have generally been pretty good and spicy.

No comments:

Post a Comment