Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Doing the Best I Can

As a teacher, I look at many great teachers and want to replicate what they are doing. I want to teach the way they do and have the students brag about what a great teacher I am. I want to have the enthusiasm about the subject like these great teachers do and teach it the way they do. But when it comes down to it, my personality and way of teaching can’t be done the same way as others. I need to find my own purpose. By imitating them, am I really doing what I set out to do? What is my own purpose?

bible Recently I have seen some of my friends start this program to “Read the Bible in 90 days.” At first I thought about joining because I have been trying to read the bible in one year but I am still working on it several years later. I thought if I joined the group, then I too could have the whole book finished. Then I stopped to think about my purpose. Did I really just want to read the words of the Bible in 90 days? My answer was no. I am reading it in small sections and thinking about it and really trying to comprehend what I’m reading. I think if I tried to rush it in 90 days, I would not get as much out of it as I want to. Maybe for other people this might work but I know it won’t work for me. I would be more focused on covering the assigned pages than I would be in concentrating on the meaning of the words. My purpose may be very different from others and I need to do what works for me. hiking

I used to be really interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail as a thru hike. This means hiking all 2200 miles at one time over six months. I bought the books and planned it in my head, waiting for retirement. Over the years, we have hiked sections of it and seen a lot of the pretty places. Now that I have retired, I realize that I really don’t want to do the whole trail as a thru hike. Maybe at the time I wanted to brag to others that I could do it and go the distance. Now I look at the trail and think that I only want to do the pretty parts and enjoy it. I don’t want to brag about the hardships and the miseries but want to relish in the joys and miracles of nature. I need to do what works for me and not what other people are doing.

I think it is important to find my own purpose each day. Maybe today I will want my class to work towards one objective and maybe tomorrow it will be different. I need to figure how to mesh what is required by the school with meeting my students’ needs. This may be different in other people’s classes because their makeup is different than mine. The pace I need to go may be different than another teacher’s pace. Like fingerprints, no two classrooms will ever be the same. And even though I may teach a subject or a lesson more than once for different classes, it will never have the same results every time. If I tried too hard to imitate another teacher exactly, I would be too focused on matching the pace rather than making sure my students were achieving the desired outcome. This is not what I want my purpose to be and would feel very disillusioned and frustrated.

So even though I admire these great teachers and want so much to be like them, I need to do what I think is best. I need to make the best decisions that I can at the time and not second guess my actions. After all my training and preparation, sometimes experience is the best teacher. I might want to use some of another teacher’s strategies but I need to tailor it to my class’s needs. I might revise my actions the next time around after reflection but at this very time, I will do the best I can. And I will recognize that I am doing the best I can at that time. I’m not saying that I can’t do better or improve the next time but right now, I am doing well. This is the way I work towards having a successful experience in the classroom.

How about you? What works for you?

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Bible with Cross Shadow'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/68278595@N00/337522540 by: David Campbell

Original image: 'Hiker'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/89831068@N00/2672043528 by: Andrés E. Azpúrua

10 comments:

Paul Bogush said...

This is a great post Pat...
"What is my own purpose?"
That is a question I have been reflecting about a lot lately...

gail said...

I am refreshed reading this post because I experience much the same as you. We have 4 teachers in each grade and each teacher approaches her day from a personal perspective and style. Where some teach certain things now, others do that later. I teach tech as well as the global subjects and few others do that. I haven't started teaching sight words, the other 3 have. In the end, I will have taught what is expected but for now I sometimes feel like an oddball.
The first paragraph you wrote is worth pasting on my own bulletin board so I can be reminded of it from time to time. It's okay to teach with a different style.

acdc080109 said...

This is so true! Thanks for posting.

Ann said...

We are in a place in education where collaborative planning is the norm, right? However, teachers are people too. We must never lose sight of our purpose in meeting the needs of our individual students. So, although the curriculum may be taught by three teachers on the same day, I hope that their classrooms and teaching styles all reflect their own creativity and enthusiasm!

Sandy said...

I have been thinking the exact same thoughts, as the first half of your post. . .I want to be the best teacher that I can be, and. . .I am getting the emails for Reading the Bible in 90 days, but like you, thought about it more and decided I want to read the whole Bible, but not just to be reading it. I want to take my time, and let God speak to me. I wrote a post about this, too.
Thank you for your post!

Elona Hartjes said...

What works for me- being authentic.
To thy own self be true.

loonyhiker said...

@Paul Thank you! I think I need to ask myself that question frequently on a regular basis.

loonyhiker said...

@gail I'm glad I don't stand alone or as others tell me, "I hear the beat of a different drummer"! :)

loonyhiker said...

@Ann I think when we are collaborating with others, we each bring our own strengths to the table. That is what makes collaborating work so well.

loonyhiker said...

@Elona That is a great word. I think ultimately we need to take care of ourselves as #1.