Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stop, Look and Listen

I have two student teachers this term. Needless to say, it is a challenge to balance the needs of them with the needs of my own students and my need to be a control freak. On a daily basis I'm doing an awful job for all of us. But whether or not I'm happy that I accepted this responsibility is irrelevant at this stage of the game, I must move forward and suck it up.

I had an amazing mentor teacher and I learned how to be a great teacher from her. However, she never fully turned over the reins and she would constantly teach over me. It drove me nuts and made me feel both small and incompetent. I swore I would not do that to my student teachers. Turns out though, it is much more difficult not to do than it looks. See, I have spent the past 8 months building these children. We have rules and procedures for doing things. There are reasons I manage the way I do and the children have become quite the well oiled machine. Until someone new is in charge. Suddenly they pop out of their seats, they blurt out answers, they talk over each other and the teacher. All the things they did when we first worked together but we had worked past. Now there is someone new, so they revert to their old lazy ways. It's like the kids that get told "no" by one parent so they go ask the other. And through it all, I have to grit my teeth and let it happen. It is maddening.

One of my student teachers talks to me non stop. She asks questions about everything all day long. It is completely exhausting. She does a lesson and then talks it to death with me. What she needs to do is to stop talking. The answers to her questions are not in my words but rather in the words and actions of the children. They tell you all you need to know if you can just be quiet long enough to hear them. Look around the room, what are they doing? Are they engaged? Are they working? Do they understand the task? Listen to their words and hear what they are saying to each other. That will tell you all you need to know. Be comfortable with the silence, be willing to just shut the fuck up long enough to really be present in the room.

Because the truth of the matter is, the greatest teachers in the room are not me, but rather the 25 eight year olds who are there with open minds waiting for you to fill them up if you would just Stop....Look...and Listen.

No comments:

Post a Comment