the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘educators’

a lesson for teachers: KEEP LEARNING NEW STUFF!!

In career, life, teaching & education, Uncategorized on December 1, 2012 at 7:33 am

I teach.

I am good at it.

Why?

Better question: Why am I putting in all these line breaks?

I’ll stop now.

I promise.

OK. Back to why I’m not so bad in the classroom.  I like it.  There’s that.  I guess I like helping others.  But I don’t like the sound of that because I don’t know if that really gets at it.  I’m just not that noble.  I’m ok with people–possible reason?  I’m not a social being, though.  I have a pretty high tolerance for solitude. At parties, I tend to get bored and want to read something.  I had a buddy in grad school who used to say that my social battery was limited.  I agree. But get me in the classroom, and I can go and go like the Energizer Bunny.  Why?

There’s a little theater to it, I guess.  I also really like trying to get my students to see that they can do things, which I guess is noble.  Please don’t tell.

Regardless of why after all these many years, I’ve become a decent teacher, the idea has lately crossed my mind that I do not want to keep at it if I’m doing so for the wrong reasons.  Or to put it simply, I don’t want to prove true that old, hack saying about teachers teaching because they CAN’T do other things.  That would make me lame and hypocritical, and if there’s one thing my savvy students pick up on is lame hypocrites.

I spend my days trying to get them to overcome their fear of learning new things.  Most of my students who don’t “like school,” are really “scared of school.”  They are scared because they know they don’t know how to do what I am asking them to do.  And not knowing is scary when you know you don’t know.

That sentence read like the bad philosophy I used to read in college–I need a line break to recover.

Back to teaching: over the years, as I have become comfortable in my position, I think I’ve forgotten how it feels to have to learn something new.  Because of the new stuff I am trying to learn in order to get the new site up and my writing career up and running, I have experienced the same anxiety when faced with not knowing that my students face when looking at an equation or a right triangle.  I know that have often wanted to run from learning how to place images in an HTML file; I have put off trying my hand at a film editing program because it just seemed too complicated. I have thought the following thoughts in rapid succession:

It just all seems so hard.

It’s too hard.

I can’t handle it.

I’m lame.

I’m dumb.

How many times have I heard these words coming from my students? How many times have I shushed them, smacked them in the head with a pencil (lovingly, of course) and reassured them?  Time for me to do the same thing for myself.  Not easy, I know.  Maybe learning requires bravery.  I need to be braver to be a better teacher.

OK.

Fine.

But can I say it?  Film editing programs are not very easy.

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sucking…

In teaching & education, Uncategorized on May 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

It’s late. My wife is asleep and I should be doing the same, but I just got home from teaching my “hot-shots”–the kids who think white people have no culture. This week we moved on to patriotism and what it means to be American. But this post won’t be dealing with that so much. The more interesting issue and the reason why this post is called “sucking” has to do with how I feel. You see early on in tonight’s class, while my students usually are journaling, one of them ( a student I’ve written about before) started in with his usual schtick: while the rest of the room was settling in to write on the prompt I assigned, he started in with “what are we supposed to do? I don’t get what a Liberal is?” There was a lot of giggling at his table. He was playing the clown, but at the heart of it, he was probably really confused by the prompt I gave. It wasn’t easy. I was asking them to think about what the words “liberal” and “conservative” mean. And these kids are not political. Anyway, instead of encouraging the clown to be quiet and start writing, I took another tack. I very forcefully told him that he had to his best and just write something. I didn’t care what. He just had to be quiet. This may not sound so bad, but if you don’t know me, then imagine a 6 foot 3 inch bald man looking like he was about to kill someone, and you’ll get my point. I lost it. He knew it. And for the rest of the class, this smart clown didn’t make one peep. He was offended. I know it. I lost him. My only hope is that I didn’t lose him for the duration. Sometimes with the community I teach, this is more than possible.

My other more immediate hope is that once I am offline, I’ll let it go. I’m pooped, so I probably will be able to sleep, but there’s tomorrow and a long drive to work’s worth of beating myself up that I want to avoid. I know I’m human. I make mistakes. The religious side of me wants to ask God for forgiveness. I can’t say I’m the best church-goer, but I often start my day with St. Francis’ Peace Prayer. In those words, I try to remind myself it’s my job to help when I can and to get out of the way when I can’t. Tonight I didn’t quite hit that mark. In the end, if I can’t let it go, there’s not much point in taking it to the Divine. Oh well, I’ll try to let it go. I will let it go. See, I let it go (kind of).

boredom…

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I feel it often.  I didn’t used to, not like I do now, and I fear that it just will get worse as I get older.  I remember a few years back, my father making a comment about life just being boring, and I remember realizing that this was proof: he was depressed.  Now, a decade later and nowhere as old my father had been when he told me about his boredom, I’m feeling it creep in, and it scares me.

But here’s a question I ask myself–one that still does not bore me and in a perverse way give me hope.  Is the boredom I’m feeling the same emotion that my students are expressing to me.  I spoke about this class last week–they’re the hotshots I teach twice a week.  I teach in a vocational school (I think they’re called career colleges now) and I am teaching some of the kids who have agreed that they want the AA so they can go on to a four year college.  They’re smart kids–there’s no doubt about it, but they constantly are complaining about the readings being boring.  Everything’s boring.  Even a kid who loos like a nerd, a soft-spoken kid who wears polo shirts buttoned up to his Adam’s Apple, even he is complaining.  I don’t want my kids to be bored.  That is by no means my goal, but there it is.  They are, and I, the person who is supposed to help them along with their educations, though not bored, know whay they’re feeling.  At least I think I do.  And yet I’m unable to do anything about it.

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