Reading minds…

9 03 2011

One of the prompts for this week’s blogging asks whether I would read minds if I could.

As an educator, one of the things I struggle with is maintaining relevance in my classes. I try to teach with humour and an understanding of the needs of my students, but I will be the first to admit that I am not always successful: my classes sometimes flop because the connections I’m making are not clear, the discussions we’re having are not challenging or engaging for my students, or, simply, that I had not planned every detail that I could have done before teaching the lesson. After one of those classes, I come away metaphorically “facepalming” myself out of frustration and ineptitude – why didn’t I do it this way? How did I not remember that that wasn’t something that helped last time? When should I have said what I said just now? What amount of time should I have allocated to that particular task? What would have been a more effective foundation task, back-up plan or extension activity?

In short, to answer the question that was the prompt, I don’t think I’d want to be able to read minds on those kinds of days. Being able to always know what my students are thinking about me, as professionally enriching as that may be, might have the ability to shatter the last vestiges of my self-esteem. For that, I use Google Docs for a survey which shows me what my students think of me so I can make changes.

I may have taught for 5 years now, going on for my 6th, but I still feel like I am doing a terrible job sometimes. Not all the time, mind. But the times when I feel like I’ve not taught anything the students can use later are the times I seriously question my choice of career.

And then a student takes a candid picture of me in class where I look like this, and I remember again what it is about this job that I love so much.

But when the rubber hits the road, I want to know how my students are relating to, and thinking about my classes; that’s why I work so hard at making my classroom open, and make myself available. I do take suggestions seriously, and like I wrote on my under-construction Wikispace, I am always looking for ways to improve the way I teach. This is an area of my life that is very clear to me.

Everything else, on the other hand…

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