During that first week, I have so many “wants.” I want to see my real students. I want to know about their real personalities and what they think. I want to know about their lives, their background, and their motivations. I want to see how they react to situations and cope with the changes going on in their lives. I want to know what they can and can’t do and how they cope with frustration. I want them to believe that I can help them and I want them to believe in themselves too.
By the second week, I’m usually more comfortable because the “Stepford Students” are disappearing. My students are wearing clothes they are comfortable in and have started to make new friends. The students who will challenge me have shown their true colors and the meek mild mannered students may really be withdrawn and depressed. Finally, these students begin to feel more comfortable and start to test limits. They want to know the boundaries and how far they can go. They have to feel that they are in a safe environment before they can trust me to teach them. When the “Stepford Students” finally disappear totally, I can be a teacher and really do my job.
When I get to know my real students, I am able to laugh with them and learn with them. I can’t teach the “Stepford Students” effectively but I can teach the real students. These are the students who may grasp a concept today but tomorrow will act like they never saw it before. These are the students who have real life issues that get in the way of their learning. These are the students who make me recognize that everyone can’t learn the same way and at the same speed. These are the students who make me feel like I really make a difference.
So, when I make it through the second week, I usually can tell that my year will be successful. It will have the usual uphill struggles but the journey is usually exciting and well worth the work!
Original image: 'Join us' http://www.flickr.com/photos/44124473190@N01/40830510 by: John Watson