I strive to be a good teacher....and maybe my first problem is that sentence. What does it mean to be a good teacher? What do those words mean to me? I am sure that many people would define being a good teacher quite differently. I think one of the most exciting things about teaching is that you are working with people. And people are unique- there is no one fits all formula. And in my crazy mind every class should go smoothly, without hiccups, or surprises. Every child is unique. Every class is going to be different. Just because it worked once, doesn't mean it'll work again. Someone please ingrain those words into my head. No matter how much I learn about child development, teaching methods, positive languages, ect, it will all fail me. Because we are human.
So here are some ways I was human this week:
I know all of my student's names. I strive to call my students by name as much as possible in a positive way. I have well over 100 students this semester, and sometimes the wrong names comes out. Not because I don't know the right name, but because of what I like to call word vomit. My brain thinks one thing, my mouth says another. Normally this happens on a rare occasion, but this week, it has happened a lot. And this can really hurt a students feelings. You don't know my name? So the only solution I could come up with was to say, "Silly me, I seem to have forgotten even my own name! Is it Suzie Q? Jenny? Bobby?" At which point the whole class goes, "No, it's Miss Rebekah!!!" (These are three to five year old students). At the end of the class, I am sure to pull aside the poor student I have called incorrectly and apologize. I would love any suggestions on how to better handle that situation!!!
The next thing I got a lot of this week with my younger ones is "when are we going to do real dancing?" At which point I feel my heart rate increase, my palms get sweaty, and I tell myself to take deep breaths. First off, let's define real dancing. Second, let's talk about developmentally appropriate times to introduce that definition of "real dancing." I can handle this question from parents who are eager for pointe shoes, pirouettes, and arabesques. It's much harder coming from kids. Does this mean they are not enjoying my class? Where are they getting these ideas of "real dancing?" Ballerina Barbie? Other dance classes? How on earth do I handle this? And to be honest, I don't have the answers, and will be asking quite a few experienced teachers how to talk to kids about "real dancing."
Side note: For the dancers out there, I have a four year old who is doing changements in her other dance class at school. I almost die when I see her knees torque into a very scary third/fifth position. And she wanted to know why we weren't doing those in my class.
So this week I was reminded that I am human. I say the wrong things. I make mistakes, but my goal is to learn from them. To grow. To remind myself that this is a journey, not a means to an end.