Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Teaching

In A Dollop of Bitter and Lots of Sweet from Sioux's Page, Sioux talks about the summer graduate class she teaches. She asks,

How about you? What bittersweet moment can you recall?”

I also teach a summer graduate class and this is the 8th year I have done this. My class is for certified teachers who are getting their master’s degree in special education.

We only meet 4 weeks for 4 days a week. We have a summer program for students ages 6 -14 where we teaching them reading, math, and writing skills. The students only attend for 15 days over the 4 weeks. When they first meet with me, the teachers all have this incredulous look on their face because they can’t imagine making any kind of difference with students in that short of time. Yet, because of course requirements, they submit lesson plans and teach these skills every day to a class of 8 students.

By the second week, we are getting remarks from parents that they can already see a difference with their child. The children are coming home eager to read or show what they learned that day. Some are learning skills that they struggled with during the school year. The 3rd week came with even more positive comments about the differences that the teachers have made with the students. Now, the teachers are proud but amazed at how they could actually make the difference in such a short time. I’m proud of my teachers and the program because I believe it is a great opportunity for the students who struggle with learning.

The bittersweet thing that stands out for me is the uncertainty that I gave enough to my own students (the teachers).

I have lots of questions that I’m not sure I have answers to yet but will be thinking about it for next year.

Did I teach the teachers enough to help them in their own classrooms?
I’m not sure the content area teachers have really bought into the idea of special education and will vary the activities and assessment enough for students with special needs. How can I get this message across better?
Teachers expressed a concern with having to individualize for students and meet the required standards. For me, it seems pretty easy which may come from experience. I need to remember that it didn’t happen overnight for me but developed  over the years. How can I convey this better for the teachers?
Did I give the struggling teacher enough confidence to continue her growth in her career?
Did I give enough support and encouragement when they needed it?
What could I do differently next year to make this course even better?

I hope I did a good job but I always have these thoughts that I could have done better. I felt this way every year that I taught in public school so I shouldn’t be surprised that I still feel this way. Will I ever feel I did a great job and leave it at that? I don’t think so.

What are your bittersweet moments? Please share.

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