Sunday, November 18, 2012

I am...

Sometimes we all need to be reminded who we are as teachers. Here is my reminder. I encourage you to write your own.

I am a teacher who cares, probably more than I honestly should.

I am a teacher who wants the best for her students, maybe even better than they believe themselves capable.

I am a teacher who wants to see her students who have had little success with math in their past realize that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

I am a teacher who strives for the best in everything I do, and expects the same from my students even if they don't believe it at first.

I am a teacher who faces struggles, as every educator does, and am willing to share them openly instead of keeping them inside because learning is messy and it’s important to involve other supportive teachers in our mess.

I am a teacher who is learning and wants to learn with her fellow educators with the goal of helping our students succeed.

I am a teacher who is willing to try new things, and continually tweak and refine them until I find what is working - and then keep working to make it better.

I am a teacher who is always looking for new ways to connect with, inspire, encourage, and motivate her students.

I am a teacher who believes that while every student can learn, they may just not have the skills to do so and must be taught, encouraged, cajoled, inspired, and otherwise lovingly "harassed" into building those skills.

I am a teacher who teaches more than math; I teach life.  And I probably teach life sometimes more than I teach math because those are the lessons that stick for a lifetime.

Long after my students have forgotten how to write the equation of a line, they come back to me either in person or online to chat and to tell me where life has taken them.  These are the things that I hear consistently:

  • "Your class was the first class I actually felt like I could succeed at math"
  • "Your class was the first math class I actually learned and understood the material"
  • “I didn’t like math when I came into your class.  Now, I really enjoy it!”
  • "You made me work harder than I ever would have worked on my own, and I'm so grateful for that"
  • "You made learning fun, even when I didn't feel like trying"
  • “You taught me that hard work pays off”
  • “You taught me that I am capable of succeeding at anything I put my mind to”
  • “I wish more teachers taught like you, you make math fun to learn”
And those are from A students, B students, C students, D students, and yes, even F students.  They all come back and tell me these things.

I know I am a great teacher.

I know that every year is a journey and that every group of students presents different challenges to overcome.  I have never given up on a group of students.  Ever.  Even though I truly believe my students struggle with knowing how to learn and succeed in an academic setting does not mean I don’t believe they are capable of growing, changing, learning how to learn tough material, learning how to succeed at things that aren’t easy.  Even if it takes all year.  

And that is why I have chosen to build my classroom around the flipped classroom mindset, not always to teach them the required math content in an efficient and effective way, but to teach them those life skills that they will take with them beyond my class and beyond my subject matter.  

To build relationships with them because I get to interact with every single student every single day, so they know there are adults they can turn to and trust even with non-academic matters.  
To teach them how to take responsibility for their learning and to become independent learners.  To prepare them for life, where they will have to think critically and build relationships with those around them in order to succeed.  
To continue to model and teach them the skills that will prepare them to be able to learn and succeed at anything they put their minds to.
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