Monday, August 10, 2015

Teacher as Student

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, Anna, Kathleen & Deb for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers
This week I get the opportunity to spend three days in training for PBL (project based learning). The trainer is excellent...she is knowledgeable and a good teacher. Learning about PBL is something I enjoy and I feel like fits easily into my teaching routine. I sat down ready to learn and to create an interesting and creative PBL unit, so why is it so hard? It wasn't long until I started thinking things like...
I don't know what to do. 
I am struggling with finding an idea. 
I can't decide. 
Nothing seems to fit. 
I am getting confused.
I can't find a clear answer to my problems.
I don't undestand. 
What do I do? 
These are some of my thoughts from today. It devolved into...
This is hard. 
I don't like this. 
This stinks.
I don't want to do this.
I'm done!
Suddenly, it dawned on me that THIS is what my students feel like sometimes...some of my students feel like this a lot of the time! I think about that while I struggle. What helps me? The trainer tells the group that it's ok to be confused right now. That helps me! She approaches me and offers support and some encouragement. I want more. I want her to tell me how to do it. I want the right answer, but I (as an adult) understand she wants me to learn. This helps me. I feel seen and heard. She leaves me alone to find a solution...for a long time. I want her to come back and check in again. She doesn't for a long time. I am getting annoyed and I feel like she's ignoring me. Later on, she comes over again to check in. I've made some decisions. I am feeling a little better about where I am. She says that she knew I'd find my way through. That helps me. She had faith in me. She believed in me. 
I want to remember the feelings of discomfort. When my students feel like this, how do they act? Sometimes they talk...I needed a lot of talking to figure out where I wanted to go. Sometimes they misbehave...I was tempted to get up and walk out, just for a break. It felt like I was never going to figure it out and that feeling of "FAILURE" was staring me right in the face. Sometimes they pass notes...I really wanted to talk to a friend, so during a break, I texted one who had been through this training for support. Remembering these feelings and this experience will help me understand my students and why they make the choices they make. 
As I left the first day, I felt like I had survived a tough day of learning! I have an's not complete yet, but it's there. The best part of this is being a student again and remembering what it feels like to work at something when you don't feel any success. As the teacher, I must remember to... 
1. Listen 
2. Offer encouragement
3. Ask questions
4. Walk away
5. Check in again
6. SEE my students
7. Think about the WHY
Back to day two and more lessons to learn!

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