(My nearly monthly post…I’m a phenomenal blogger)
Now that I’ve been investing in my 170+ students for a little over two months now, I’m beginning to really understand the current limits of my teaching as mentorship philosophy.
First, I’m not them. Even though four of my six classes are AP classes, our minds are not equal. That isn’t meant to be elitist at all. In fact, it’s a testament to my mother’s vision and God’s favor that I was able to be pushed in the “right” areas throughout my life.
I’ve always been blessed with top notch English teachers at the right time in my life. My third/fourth/(part of second) grade teacher really taught me how to write in a way that prepared me to succeed in middle school. My seventh-grade English teacher did much the same thing. And my AP English teacher and my 10th grade English teacher really helped me to develop into a writer that could wow people at times. However, that’s not the limit of me not being them.
Without a doubt, one thing I can say is that I have a love for language that extends beyond what the average kid finds interesting. Yes, I fully read every summer reading book I was assigned, no matter how difficult, but I was also feasting on the bible from age 6 or 7. I read almost anything I could put my hands on.
That love for words and ideas is something that I don’t really see in many of my students, and it shows in some of their deficiencies.
Second, many of my kids really WANT a teacher. Someone who is so definitively above them that they feel inspired to reach up or afraid not to. And without a doubt, you don’t become a real teacher in three months. I went to a town hall this past weekend and all the panelists agreed: It takes 5 years for most good teachers to reach their potential. I’m not planning on being in high school that long.
The two come together in the most interesting ways. Since I’m not them, some of their pain doesn’t register to me. It’s hard for me to read them when they’re hurting. I can’t always make the connections when they’re presented. A senior was killed by a stray bullet this past weekend, and I was unable to be the mentoring and understanding teacher because I didn’t fully understand the situation. It took me all day to really give some sort of a proper outlet for one of my grieving students. That’s no bueno. I had students in every single period who were and are still hurting.
Today I wasn’t able to be the firm teacher who understood my administration and who put the lessons above the threats of rumors. Being in the dark is hard for me because I’m very used to being included at least on a marginal level. However, if I was more experienced I would have known that unless otherwise noted, you follow the plan. I can’t be so quick to abort lessons that could work with more vigor and tenacity.
I also need to be more willing to manage up. There are people that can help me. I’m just afraid of having my failure be confirmed (Ivy trait). At the end of the day, if I really want to grow I’m going to have to balance my own reflections, which take time but make major impact, with other people’s observations, which could save time. Why re-invent the wheel when you could adjust it to fit your wagon right?
GOALS. I’ll try and write some more soon.