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Philosophical Meanderings, School Stories

New Year, New Teacher-my classroom resolutions for 2012

It has been a long time since I’ve posted on my own blog because lately, I have gone into survival mode–just getting grades done and hanging on to my sanity leading up to the holiday break. The fall semester was filled with triumphs and successes for my students and me, but I also must admit that in the end, I was pretty disappointed by what things had degenerated into. Even my students wondered (aloud) if I was having trouble in my personal life, as my jovial, chatty demeanor quickly deteriorated into a frazzled abruptness as the end of the semester approached. My personal life was fine, it was my job that was stealing my joy! By my last day, I found myself questioning whether I should just switch careers, since my patience had clearly run out. I even scheduled an interview for a consulting gig that would possibly include a company car in which I could drive far, far away from grades, obnoxious kids, demanding administrators and all of the things that made being a teacher so. damn. hard.

Today, after enjoying some much needed quality time with family and friends, I can now say what I’ve always known–I was born to be in the classroom. I love kids, especially the ones who get on your last nerve. I love seeing the look on a kid’s face when they finally understand something that they once thought was impossible to learn. I enjoy decorating bulletin boards, marching in graduation ceremonies and all the other fun things that come with being a teacher. Although I hate grading papers and always feel perpetually behind on grades, kids need timely feedback. I detest “writing up” my students for poor behavior, but without rules, even the most ‘engaging’ classes can descend into chaos. As I always tell my students when they come to me with excuses, I’ve learned that the only person you can change is YOU. So, my first resolution for the new year is to be a new teacher. I am a pretty laid-back person who loves to have fun, but I have found that many of my students, 11th and 12th graders on the brink of adulthood, see this as a weakness to be exploited. Despite my best efforts, they start to see me as “one of them”, and although this rapport often works in my favor, it is also the source of a lot of frustration for me. This is not the first year I have struggled with this. I also know that I am not the only teacher who struggles with this.

I always worry about my students not having the work ethic to be successful after high school, but I tend to be very forgiving in my grading and management. Without becoming an ogre, I want to create a more structured environment for my students in which we continue to do meaningful work, but with very high standards for student participation and commitment. I am not suggesting that I must become a paper-pushing sourpuss to be a successful teacher. I would also never want to punish a student who may miss the mark, but is willing to go back and correct his or her mistakes. After seven years of teaching, I just want to be a little less “loosey-goosey” in my approach. My issue seems to be that I am always coming up with new ideas and strategies to try, not allowing myself the time and space to follow through and be consistent with what I’ve already put in place. This year, my goal is to find a balance between being my fun-loving self and the organized, focused professional that my students need me to be. I know that great lessons and engaging work are the foundation of good classroom management, so I will start there as I always have. I will continue to have a good time in the classroom, laugh at my own jokes, and plan exciting tech-rich and hands-on projects for each unit. I will also work harder to keep up with grades and lesson plans, be more consistent with feedback, positive and negative, and focus on doing a few great things, resisting the temptation to try a million ideas at once.

How will your classroom look in the coming year?

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About Tinashe Blanchet

Tinashe Blanchet (@mrsblanchetnet) is a math teacher at John Ehret High School in Marrero, Louisiana. She is a passionate ed-blogger who loves learning about how to enhance her practice with tech tools, as she maintains a “Model Technology Classroom” for her district. Please visit her online at http://mrsblanchet.net or http://blanchetblog.net to find out more!

Discussion

6 thoughts on “New Year, New Teacher-my classroom resolutions for 2012

  1. This is a dance in which many of us are constantly participating. The tensions that you express are so very familiar to me, some of which I hinted at a couple of years ago in another piece of writing (http://www.edutopia.org/creative-teaching-environment?page=2)

    But, I think that this is the type of tension that makes us better at what we do, and how we do it. Being very clear to ourselves about that with which we struggle is important. So many times I’ve tried to sweep some of those important things about me under the carpet…much to my own detriment and the detriment of my students.

    I think that one of the things that you’re talking about has to do with our desire to have meaningful relationships with those whom we teach. And sometimes that seems difficult and elusive when we’re forced into the role of authority. You’re right…it’s about the balance. It’s part of the journey, and it’s a struggle that will likely always be there for you, and for me!

    Thanks for expressing it here!

    Posted by Stephen Hurley | December 27, 2011, 5:19 pm
  2. This post is full of honesty, a much underrated character trait! I think that you are already 90% of the way to the change you seek. Good luck with your journey.

    Posted by Scott Bierko | December 28, 2011, 9:20 am
  3. I want more kids to feel safe asking to learn what they want to learn.

    I want more kids to find a way in to our community and shared work.

    I want more kids to trust that their demonstrated desire to do the work they choose is all the clearance they need to do that work.

    I want to work in a classroom where I am my most helpful self, which is not my teacherly self.

    It took me the better part of a decade to realize that what I wanted for my kids was community, not control – that what I wanted for them was to know themselves more than they knew me.

    It’s difficult to be patient with myself, but it’s more difficult to be someone else.

    With all my best wishes for the New Year,
    C

    Posted by Chad Sansing | December 28, 2011, 9:24 pm
  4. Hi Tinashe,
    Your post really resonated with me. In fact, I could have probably writen it myself. The conclusion I’ve come to is that instead of trying to change myself, who I am fundamentally, I am trying to see the positive aspects of being the kind of teacher who responds to students and classroom situations as they happen. Not that I don’t have a bigger plan but that plan is pretty much directed by the needs and interests of my students. The kids are the ones that drive the curriculum and usually what comes out of that is much bigger and more important than what is in my provincial Programs of Study, as good as these might be. Sometimes, this kind of teaching can be exhausting so it’s important to take those much needed breaks but it is so much more satisfying than following a script, which I know you’re not advocating, or staying the course of your plan because, well, it’s what you planned. Many good wishes for the new year!

    Posted by Elisa Waingort | December 29, 2011, 1:59 pm
  5. I found this post from this article: http://www.chicagonow.com/white-rhino/2011/09/this-school-year-dont-teach-like-a-champion/#comments
    I haven’t had a chance to go through your most recent posts but I wondered how things have been in your classes since you wrote this? I am going into my fourth year teaching, my second year as a ninth grade teacher, and I struggle with some of the same issues. I spend a lot of time thinking about day to day interactions with my students but find little info or support from high school teachers. I’d love to hear from you.

    Posted by Andrea | July 24, 2014, 6:58 pm

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: I’m back! (and going to LONDON!!!) « blanchetBlog - February 27, 2012

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