Being a teacher means embracing constant change. Yet all too often, teachers are told when, how and why to change. In this monthly column, Mrs. Mimi takes on creating change for herself by rethinking old practices and redefining teaching on her own terms.
Teaching is an emotional thing. There is the joy you feel when your students master a new concept, the frustration you feel when they look at you like you’re speaking in tongues, the nervousness you feel before the first day, and the relief you feel when their little fannies walk out the door on the day before a vacation. But you know the one emotion that doesn’t get enough attention as it relates to the lives of teachers?
Yeah, I said it. Panic. Teachers feel panic. And you know what? I think a little panic makes us better teachers. A little panic never hurt anyone.
We have a huge responsibility as teachers. You know, we work to create thoughtful citizens, we instill a love of reading and help children curate an identity as readers, we expose children to new ideas, we encourage teamwork and inventive problem solving….all while holding our pee for eight solid hours and never sitting down. That is INTENSE!
I begin the year with energy, with plans, with enthusiasm, with ideas, with the calm that only comes from a few weeks spent on the beach. As the year progresses, and September becomes October, I feel accomplishment as my little friends are settled into our routines nicely and are shaping up to be a lovely group. As October slips into November and then December comes out of nowhere, the panic begins to set in. I have to get my students to hit what benchmark
as readers? And why has that particular group of friends seemed to stall in their progress? What happened to my organized conferring notes? Where should I go to find new and exciting titles? And has anyone seen my To-Do list…I thought I put it right here…you can’t miss it—it’s five pages long and double sided.
Just yesterday, I sat with a group of teachers who were deep into their annual panic. They were hungry for new titles to share with their classes, for ideas to use to ramp up the effectiveness of their reading conferences, and for new tricks to better organize their mountains of notes and data. And that’s when I realized—the panic made each of these teachers better than they ever imagined they could be. The panic created a sense of urgency that did not consume these teachers; rather, it pushed them to work harder to see results and improve their own practice in significant ways.
So as the holidays approach and your own sense of personal and professional panic come to a jolly head, take a breath and recognize that this panic is making you a total rock star. Mrs. Mimi is a pseudonymous teacher who taught both first and second grades at a public elementary school in New York City. She's the author of IT'S NOT ALL FLOWERS AND SAUSAGES: MY ADVENTURES IN SECOND GRADE, which sprung from her popular blog of the same name. Mimi also has her doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
© 2012 Mrs. Mimi. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.