Monday, May 14, 2007

The Better Part of Me

I am a confident teacher. I can stand in front of lethargic teenagers who checked out weeks ago and provide them with solid, necessary information. I know I can.
But for all my ability to present that material, I often need reminders that I can actually teach these students. I don't want to be that teacher who bloviates in front of the class while the students make funny faces behind him--I'd rather see them do it!
Today, I had a reminder that I can actually teach my students. And of all the strange ways to get that reminder, it happened during a parent-student-teacher conference. This particular mother has a wonderful relationship with her daughter, and is quite involved with her daughter's academics--let it out everyone, that long sigh of "geez, I wish I had parents like that."
We met because this student has been working on an essay that she is intent on making better than average. She is not satisfied with a C. Instead of whining about it, she has decided to figure it out. I scored the essay, gave it back to her, and scored it again--giving it back to her a second time. But she wants it to be correct. So, today I sat with her and the mom to plod through the essay again, pointing out all of the minor details that will make the essay above average.
We spent over an hour working word by word, phrase by phrase, and paragraph by paragraph until at last, we looked at the essay as a whole. I've never felt more confident as a teacher. I loved every second of that conference.
Across the table from me a mom worked to understand how she can support her daughter; next to her, the daughter feigned disinterest but has spent far more hours on this essay than most of my students spend on three essays.
I wish I could do this for every student--it really is the better part of me.


At 10:29 AM , Blogger Patrick and Tiffany said...

Great blog, and you are obviously a great teacher. I'm in the midst of struggling to find out what my calling is...feeling very unfullfilled and dissatisfied at my job. I have thought of teaching before. But I might give it another look now. Thanks for the enlightenment!

At 2:43 AM , Blogger Back2Nature said...

I like to teach maths. Similarly, I believe getting into those details can help students. However, the system doesn't provide the time to do so.
Surely, it also requires the efforts from students to be interested in these details, rather than just the final score or grade.


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