Some days I felt like an excellent educa tor

Some days I felt like an excellent educa tor Some days I felt like an excellent educa tor - Start

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Some days I felt like an excellent educa tor - Description

Other days I believed my effort betrayed me for what I really was mediocre Teachers can 57557t easily define success in the workplace We don57557t toil at investment banking firms and gauge a job well done by the number of eroes on a holiday bonus c ID: 54259 Download Pdf

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Some days I felt like an excellent educa tor




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Some days, I felt like an excellent educa- tor. Other days, I believed my effort betrayed me for what I really was: mediocre. Teachers can t easily define success in the workplace. We dont toil at investment banking firms and gauge a job well done by the number of eroes on a holiday bonus check. Or sell enough office furniture to win a trip to Aruba. So how did I measure my accomplish- me nts in the c lassr m? he akar ia, a sauc -e boy from Senegal, began talking aft er months of anxious silence? When Ivanny use he ho ne mic a war ness skil ls to write ab ou me: he les us do fun st vf ogethr and she r eed books to us and she is reel reel nis umt im he r mother tearfully thank me f or treating her son like my own? Or should I consider my mere presence in the room “enough”? I hiked in on snowy days. I wore colorful clothes and a perennial smile. During snack time I encouraged my students to find the letter of the day on their Capri Suns and Nutter Butter wrappers. passed up happy-hour drinks with friends and never gave my children worksheets while I recuperated at my chipped desk. But I did party on the weekends. I often left lesson planning for Sunday afternoon, quickly creating activities to fill 25 hours of teaching time each week. I locked my classroom promptly after dismissal on Tuesdays and Thursdays, caught the train home in time to hit the gym and cook dinner before Access Hol- ywood egan. Some days, I didnt teach math. I brought leaves to the classroom during fall, used cotton balls and white paint to re-create snow in winter, and ordered caterpillarswatch- ing the cocoon and emerge as butterfliesin spring, but that was the extent of Room 302s science curriculum. During my second year teaching, the vice principal pur- hased nifty, grant-funded Palm Pilots, which my colleagues and I used to monitor our students literacy skills every six weeks. From September to June, I saw the number of names under my at risk” column dwindle to one. Finally, I had hard evidence of my success. Mean- while, exposed were the teachers who failed the ir students (not surprisingly, the same ones the rest privately chastised for their sloppy classrooms and lax discipline). Still nd d: ur e, taught my students to ount sy lab les and b le nd sounds, but was that e nough? li in C amb idg e. packed up my lassr aft er three years of teaching to go ba ck to school. I couldnt face a career of at ing bulletin boards each month, unc lasping t icky Bratz belts while little girls squirmed to hold in their pee, and scream- ing at little boys to stop throwing crayons across the room. The decision was made one sticky May day after a failed addition les- son, when Cory spat in Ladeshas face and my patience evaporated into the hot air. But since I left Ive realized a few things. For one, patience is a renewable resource. No matter what happened the day before, I revived loyally each dawn. Each morning I greeted my students with replenished serenity. When in command of 22 five-year-olds, part of me thinks exercising patience is giving them more than “enough. Ive also realized that altruism is somewhat selfish and ddicting. I missed those small palms pressed adoringly into mine. And after a brief hiatus, Im backteaching children part-time. Am I doing it just to feel good about myself? oes it matter? Katherine Newman, a former New York City Teaching Fellow, eaches writing at Emerson College in Boston. Confessions from the Classroom How do teachers know theyre working hard enough? BY KATHERINE NEWMAN 88 EDUC TION NEX SUMMER 2007 www educ ationne xt .org chool life Two years ago I lived at the edge of Manhattans Upper East Side. Each weekday morning at 6:30 caught the uptown train, which shuttled me through subterranean corridors to the enormous Bronx public school where I taught kindergarten. Most mornings I praised myself for tackling such difficult job. The rest of the time, a different thought haunted me: as a teacher, was I doing enough? missed tho se small palms pr ssed adoringly into mine. HO OUR TE OF THE A THOR

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