Sunday, August 26, 2012

And we're off!

On Thursday, I began my 4th full year of teaching.  Considering that stress, heavy work-loads, and bad experiences in the classroom drive a number of teachers out of the profession during the first couple of years, I feel some sense of accomplishment in being at this point.  I recognize that I am nearing the end of my "new teacher" phase--never have I had a feeling of being quite this settled and at peace (even though I've still been working hard on prep).  In the past, my hard work was accompanied by a sense of panic and apprehension at whether or not what I was planning was actually any good.  This time, I am fairly confident in my ability to plan, and if a particular plan turns out not to work as well as I thought, I have other ideas and activities that I can implement without a whole lot of hassle at a moment's notice.  In those early days, I always felt for some reason as though my reputation and relationship with the class were at stake with every activity, with everything I said.  Perhaps that was true, and perhaps not--either way, I just don't worry that much anymore.  One mom came up to me after school on Friday and told me how much her son was looking forward to my class: "So many of his older friends told him to take your class and kept saying 'Oh, Mr. Gibson is such a good teacher'."

Of course, I know that such a complement fails to give credit to the wonderful students I've had who gave me a chance to grow and improve, but perception is a powerful thing.  I'm always conscious to verbally acknowledge that the good moments I've had in the classroom have been as much (if not more) because of the students as because of personal ability on my part.  Still, it's comforting and exciting to know that I'm perceived as a good teacher.  It has led me to realize that the world is not at stake every time I open my mouth or plan an activity.  If something doesn't go well, I'll try again with an assumption of trust between myself and my students;  trust that what I do and how I teach holds their best interests at heart and that I will do my best to put things right if anything goes wrong.  

It is tough to recognize growth while we're in the midst of growing--typically it is later that we recognize it, and by comparison to how we were before.  Each August finds me in a different place, further along than I was several months before in June, and much further along than I was the previous August.  I'm eager to see how this year goes, and how both I and my students will be grown through the experiences we'll have together.  

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