As of today I’ve completed my first full week of school. At this point in my career, I’m again low on the seniority list (I changed boards three years ago) and am at my third school in three years. I feel quite blessed to have a contract position as it’s a very difficult job market for teachers, however, being “the new girl” has its challenges and it’s especially challenging when you’re different.
I had a student comment today that I am not a “traditional” English teacher and this student is absolutely correct. I am different. I use technology extensively, but that’s not what makes me different.
I believe in being open and authentic. I feel that in many cases we hide the curriculum from our students and they are left wondering why something is important. Very few students question a task and just play the game to achieve the necessary grade, but this worries me. I want students to question. I want them to know what is going on and why I am doing what I’m doing. I feel they need to know as this allows them to take ownership of the daily tasks and assignments but also of their own learning.
Furthermore, I worry that we make learning out to be compartmentalized. To me, learning is far more organic in nature. I want my students to realize that they can learn about English through studying other topics, disciplines and activities. And to be completely honest, I want them to be learning far more than just the “English” curriculum. I want them to be learning resilience, dedication, strong work habits, collaboration skills and many other “learning skills” that aren’t a means of achieving grades.
Finally, I want my students to have fun because learning is fun. I spend a lot of time watching my three year old discover the world. Everything she learns is exciting. She asks a million questions and has the most insatiable curiosity about life. She is constantly discovering new things and it brings her immense joy. I don’t think she is unique in that respect, but I’m worried that somewhere along the way, she is going to lose the pleasure she gets from learning. She is lucky, however, that both her parents are always striving to learn something new but I don’t think this is true for every student and I believe it’s my job to rekindle a love of learning in some students. (Some students never lose it thank goodness).
With all that being said, I realize that some days are going to be more difficult than others, as I have a different outlook on education than others, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. In fact, I’ve never been so sure about my teaching style.