Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day 69: Perpetual Fear

Once again, I'm having tremendous difficulty with a balance of responsibility.

I feel very good about the resources and supports that I provide for my students until someone questions it.  The first complaint seems to shatter the thin veneer of "I'm a teacher and I know what I'm doing."

I can't seem to put my finger on why this is.  I have several theories, including lack of confidence in the supports that I have in place, lack of confidence in my own abilities as an educator and an assessor.

I DO believe in what I am doing, but I question whether or not I'm doing it right, or at the least the way I want to do it.  I know that I have tons of room for growth and, intellectually, I recognize that it will take me a lifetime to get where I want to be.

Emotionally however, I see the students in front of me and I deeply fear that I am failing them.

I also recognize that with so many students over so many years, I am bound to get complaints and push-back.  Parents only ever want the best for their children and I never begrudge them that desire.  The issue for me, and I suspect the system in general is that we don't have a deep enough conversation about what that is, or what it should look like.

On top of this, we only casually acknowledge that it may look different for every student.  With 130 students, it's impossible to meet the individual needs of each one.  We do our best, usually, but we often fall short.  Some students fall through the cracks and it's devastating when that happens.

There are some students where I feel no responsibility.  I have provided them with multiple resources and allowed work to be turned in later.  When the students put no effort into their own education, I can talk to them, but I can't do the work for them.

There are several students, however, who are putting in incredible amount of effort and simply not performing where they would prefer.  This doesn't mean failing.  It means less than 100%.  I feel as though I am providing appropriate resources and support but not everyone agrees and that erodes my confidence.

I asked some other teacher about it and they all put on a solid and confident face, whether or not it's real.  "I've done what I can to help this child."

I put this face on as well and I believe it until I'm confronted.  I don't know how to balance the compassion that I feel for these students and my believe that mistakes are necessary for growth.

On the surface, I know which complaints and push-back are irrational and which have a solid basis, but emotionally, I can't square it.

As a result, I'm trying to take a step back, examine what I've done and what I haven't.  I'm speaking to students whose judgement I trust and asking them how I can improve.  Part of this means recognizing that whether my students are appropriately placed in my class or not, I still have a responsibility to help them.

Today's step was about organization.  Two-dimensional physics problems with Newton's Laws are very complicated. Color-coding can help...

Why are you not doing everything you possibly can for my child?

I think that in many cases, I am.  No matter what, someone is bound to disagree.

I hope that I remember this when my own children start having difficulty in school.

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