28 March 2010

Classroom Management, Week 5

It is just about time to wrap up the 4th module in the MACI program. We only have one class period left. During this module, I have really begun to genuinely value the act of reflection. I'm not really sure why or just what happened to cause it, but slowly my outlook on reflection has changed. This seems quite strange since it was the last module which was called Reflective Writing, but I guess, as usual, I'm just a little slow and things are finally beginning the sink into my brain.

When I went through the teacher education program at SNU, I was taught to reflect. I've written so many reflection papers about other papers and "artifacts" that I can't even begin to count them all. Seriously, I did reflections on reflections. It got old. I was all reflected out. I didn't even want to look at a mirror for fear I would reflect! However, at this point in my life/education/development, I am beginning to see the value in thinking about what I did and what I should be doing. Thinking about what I had hoped the outcomes of a lesson were going to be and realizing that I fell short/met/exceeded what was hoped for in the lesson.

More often than not, I fall short. This point has been driven home recently as I have thought about the first half of this semester. However, as I look back over the previous 2 3/4 years, I feel satisfied about what I've been doing in my classroom. I've built some relationships with students, especially in my advisory time, that I think may have a lasting impact on, at least a few, of those student's lives. That's really what my idea of classroom management is: building solid, meaningful, relationships with students. I hope that I can help students make good decisions in their lives. Lord knows I have made a lot of bad decisions in my life. I don't think it "was intended" for me to make those poor decisions, but if students can gain some insight into "what NOT to do" in their lives, at least the hardship in my life will not have been for naught!

I recently read a blog post about what its like to reflect on your practices in the classroom. Striving for perfection leaves you, at times, feeling unfulfilled and empty. This is usually because you NEVER get to the point you can be satisfied. So, here's the meat of this post: do you stop striving for the best and enjoy the status quo in your job/education/life or do you continue to work harder knowing "it will never be good enough"? I'm sure you know the answer here is to keep working harder and striving to do the best that you can. I don't mean to be the best teacher. I mean to be YOUR best. Be the best teacher YOU can be. There's a big difference.

In our family, we take trips and we try to tell our kids that the trip is much more about the journey and a lot less about where we are going. There's an awful lot to see along the way and if you keep looking for the destination you are going to miss something. I think the situation of reflecting on my teaching practice is similar: its more about the process and a lot less about the product. I KNOW I'll never stop integrating new ideas/strategies into my physics curriculum. I KNOW none of my lessons will ever be good enough for me. The only person I compare my practices to are my own. I don't really care what anyone else is doing in my building/department. Its not Me vs. Them. Its Me vs. Me! I'm not in competition for some End-Of-Instruction percent passing rate with another class. Its kind of like a qualifying race of some kind: I'm simply racing myself. It doesn't matter what anyone else says or does about my practice of teaching because I know no matter what anyone else says it will never be good enough for me! And I'm the only one that matters anyway!

How about you? Do you think about what you do in life? Do you ask yourself whether or not you met your goals? Do you even set any goals? If so, don't get bogged down in the fact that you might never achieve what you set out to do. Relish in the thought that you are achieving at a higher level than you would have if you hadn't tried so hard! That's the only thing that gets me through the day. Thanks for reading.

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