Better...Just Barely

I'm incredibly lucky to have an amazing support system around me. I have friends, family, fellow Teaching Fellows and co-workers all rooting for me and telling me I have what it takes to do be a good teacher. The thing is, with the exception of the Teaching Fellows and my co-workers, nobody else really knows that. In fact, I am not a good teacher. At this point even my passion (which is largely nonexistent by lunch) and my intelligence are moot factors in being an effective teacher. At this point being a good teacher is a long ways off. I'm working towards competence.

Today was not an exceptionally better day than yesterday. The only thing that stuck out in making it an improvement, was that it was not the first day of school, so it had that going for it. My only solace in the fact that I am failing in many ways is that I am aware of that, and I'm moving quickly to fix it. I've implemented a system of consequences and rewards. I've assigned classroom jobs. I use a timer that more or less keeps the students moving from task to task. When I'm working with English Language Arts lessons, I feel pretty comfortable and I see learning going on.

Still, the struggles outweigh the few successes and the downside of this all is the fact that the first days of school are the most crucial in establishing the class climate for the entire year. Meanwhile, I'm dealing with only 18 students and I can expect at least 10 more in the next week or so. So even establishing control over the students I have is a first step at best. And while I learn the ropes, the ones who are truly suffering are the students.

I'm thankful for the experience and I know that down the road I can be a great teacher, but I can't help but wonder if my presence is doing more good than harm. Data shows that effective teachers can raise the lowest performing students by one or more grade level, while poor teaching can set a student back as much as two levels. It's data they tell us to inspire us as teachers, but it's really scary stuff when considering what's at stake in terms of my own success as a new teacher. Probably too much to dwell on after just two days though.


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