“Teach or Die Trying” Friday January 6, 2017

(Today’s post is from a reflective paper I wrote for student teaching. Enjoy!)

There was never any doubt in my shutterstock_111462035-1mind that I was going to be a teacher when I grew up. Oh sure, before I knew teaching was an option I probably wanted to be a ballerina or a fairy princess. But after 3rd grade the answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was always “a teacher.”

And why not? I loved all of my teachers growing up. They seemed so smart and confident. They created these warm, enveloping environments where the days would fly by because I was entirely engrossed in the educational euphoria that erupted from those childhood classrooms.

I never noticed if my teachers were tired, or faking a lesson, or had no idea what they were doing. Whatever my teacher said was the truth. Whatever she told me I believed without question.

The rules and procedures seemed like an afterthought. I remember my teachers having a marble jar or something similar, where if we filled it up by following directions we would get a party. But I never remember having to be told repeatedly to follow the directions. I don’t remember getting in trouble, and I can’t recall any specific kids misbehaving.

Am I remembering a more idyllic childhood or were kids back then just better behaved?

For instance, if I tell a student to put something away they don’t put it away right away. Instead they ask “why?” As if not coming up with a good enough reason might reverse my direction. And what’s worse is I tell them why. My directions should be good enough by themselves.

“Patrice, please put your silly bands away.”
“Why?”

“Because you don’t need them and right now. It’s time for math.”
“Can’t I just keep them on my wrist?”

“No, I asked you to put them away.”
“Uh! That’s so unfair!”

The real reason I wanted the silly bands put away is because they were distracting. But “distracting” is debatable and then I’d get in an argument about whether or not a person can do math while having silly bands out.

Why can’t kids just do as they’re told without an explanation for why?

I think I believed I was going to be teaching kids like myself. Kids who are afraid of misbehaving and enjoy learning. Instead I’m teaching kids that don’t want to learn and have no fear of authority.

But it’s not like I had a back-up plan if teaching doesn’t work out. Teaching is the plan. Teach or die trying.

-Jessica Sinclair
March 14, 2015

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