Before I start, I want to assure you that this is not a post asking for sympathy or reassurance.
Some people might read my blog and come away with the mistaken impression that I am a very confident person who is an amazingly effective teacher. That is very far from the truth. I try to keep this blog positive so others will be inspired – and there is enough negativity in the world of education without me adding to it. However, I don’t want to give the false impression that I’m a super teacher who somehow manages to transcend all of the real-world problems that teachers face every day.
So, allow me to share some of my not-so-super thoughts from the last 7 days. These were just some of the real moments of doubt that infused my brain last week:
- Why can’t those 2 boys just work on their Cardboard Challenge projects instead of wandering around and getting off-task? Why can’t I motivate them enough to stay on-task?
- Why did only 4 out of 18 students in my 5th grade class do the assignments they volunteered to do on their own time last week? Now we have no videos or announcements to advertise the Cardboard Challenge and it’s only a week away! What made me think they would actually work on this at home? Just because it’s a priority for me doesn’t mean it’s a priority for them.
- Are my students learning anything from doing this project? Or is it just an excuse for them to play around?
- I can’t believe I didn’t test all of the laptops before we tried to use them this afternoon. How is it that only 3 out of 8 laptops will even let the students log in – and the ones that do let them log in won’t show Google Classroom because the browser is too old, and our district Software Center won’t let me update them? What a waste of 45 minutes plus the 20 minutes I took to prepare the assignment in the first place!
- If a student thinks it’s funny to flick a piece of a cardboard and it makes a direct hit to another student’s eyeball, which he didn’t intend but it happened anyway, what consequence should follow and am I a bad teacher for not preventing it happening in the first place?
- Why did I order twenty 6 in. packing tape refills for our six 3 in. dispensers? Am I getting so close to retirement that I’m incapable of doing math now?
- If giving my students the freedom to create is such a good thing, then why do I feel grumpy and have a giant headache?
I have to admit that I was feeling pretty glum and and worthless by the end of last week. I loved the ideas my students and our Maker Club came up with for Cardboard Challenge, but I had huge doubts about the actual value of the whole experience.
I would like to say that I had an epiphany or that a student said something that made everything worthwhile. But that’s not generally the case in real life, and it hasn’t happened here. Just like many teachers, I suspect, I have to talk my self down off the ledge several times a week.
My students are not the only ones who need to work on fostering a Growth Mindset. Instead of feeling powerless and worthless, I also need to make an effort to figure out what I’ve been doing wrong and fix it. Instead of “throwing out the baby with the bath water,” (which is kind of a horrible idiom when you think about it!) I need to remember that some things are actually working and make adjustments to the ones that aren’t.