Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting Good at Getting Better

I first jotted down some notes for this post about ten days ago...or maybe two weeks? Time gets warped in this profession...it's dense. It moves fast, but feels slow.

I had a teacher in high school who loved to quote Samuel Beckett, "No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." At the time, I thought that this statement was defeatist and pessimistic, a perversion of "try try again" that was, to me, representative of his personality. But after my first few attempts teaching in front of my mentor, it was ringing in my ears. 

First time: I was about five minutes in to teaching students on my own, with my mentor and co-res sitting in the back of the room. Then, unexpectedly, she stopped me and told me to try a think-pair-share. Flustered, I did as told and tried to throw in a T-P-S. Pretty soon she was standing next to me at the front of the room, and we were taking turns speaking to the class and having them work in their groups while she whispered tweaks in my ear. I felt chagrined; in my head, I knew that I should take this "real time coaching," as they call it, in stride and keep on keepin on, but in my gut, I felt a vague, nagging feeling of disappointment and anxiety for the rest of the day. I wrote down the phrase that is this title's post to remind myself that getting better is something that one has to be good at. I have to be willing to take advice and adjustments as ways for me to improve, and not as criticism. It is hard, though.

Now, two weeks later, I feel good about how things are going. I have a lot of energy, though I have been getting less and less sleep, and I feel like I'm getting better at anticipating what my mentor wants me to do. But this feeling of success means that new hurdles are just around the...what? Bend? You don't have hurdles around corners, right? The point is, there are constantly new pieces to master. Champion teachers aren't made overnight, after all!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of school!

Today was the first day of school with students. Phew! It was fun and I definitely observed a lot of stuff--particularly around two dozen "Do It Agains" for the Lemov followers. That's when the teacher gives directions, then if the students don't follow the directions EXACTLY, she stops them and makes them do it again, from the beginning. They definitely got better at following directions after a few of these. The kids are terrific. The tough thing is, even though I spent all day observing and taking notes, by the end of the day I had a hard time remembering anything that had happened. Observation fatigue--and it was only the first day!

My mentor is great; she's been teaching for a long time but is also always trying new things. And my co-resident (there are two of us with each mentor) is also great. I know I'm going to learn a ton from both of them.

Since the start of the school year is a time for new goals, I am setting a goal for myself: I will post at least once a week. I'd like to keep more frequent track of my thoughts as they progress over the year. We'll see how that goes--I already spent most of the evening working, though I did spend some QT with the dog and the SO. My brain is fried, and my feet hurt! Time for bed.