Saturday, March 6, 2010

Riding in the Saddle

Have you ever seen a novice horseback rider? Every time the horse moves they seem to jump in an out of the saddle. That is how it felt for the first few months of teaching at the FAIR School Downtown. I was bogged down with media, technology, and somewhere in there figuring out how to teach my three classes. I was constantly running from class to meeting to printer issue to computer issue to whatever the next phone call. I was going all over the building the entire day and after a while I realized that I needed to focus in on what is really important - the students. It was not that before I was neglecting them, or focusing on them, or really trying hard to create relevant, worthwhile, and useful lessons - because I was - it was just that all too often it felt like I was doing all these other things all the time and that teaching kind of got shoved to the back burner. I was uncomfortable in my variety of roles because I was too busy trying to do too many things. So days were really good, my students listened, they had a good Fishbowl or a good discussion over the material we were learning. But there were other days when students did not listen, where I felt bad, was tired, and beat up from the stress of the job. It constantly felt like I was jumping in and out of the saddle. I was trying to ride this horse of being an effective teacher/media/technology person, but I somehow I was not good enough to keep it all together.

Since then a few months have passed, an entire semester and half of another quarter, and here I am finally riding in the saddle. My lessons seem to have a good pace and the students are responding in positive ways. In addition, I have figured out how to push each student in just the right way. The classroom management is becoming easier. Students understand the expectations and are following them for the most part. I continue to become more comfortable also in my other roles as the media and technology coordinator. I have gotten used to the questions and issues that keep popping up and the variety of different tasks that I get to complete each day. It is exciting and I really enjoy going to work because there seems to be a constant challenge. Everyday is always an adventure.

I do not know if it has been time that has made me feel more comfortable. Or maybe it has been really getting my students to the place where I can actually teach. Or maybe it is the fact that I am making time for my prep periods and really focusing on segmenting out each day. I now respect the instructional part of my day and the technology/media part of my day equally and they both get fair and separate time. Or maybe it is the fact that I have really focused on not checking my work e-mail accounts after I get home or on the weekend. I also take part of every weekend off to recharge my own personal batteries so that I can really be the best teacher come Monday morning. I have really learned that personal time, combined with exercise throughout the week, has really been key to feeling comfortable where I am.

By no means am I saying that I am some sort of expert at this teaching/technology/media stuff yet, because that is clearly not true. However, as I look back at where I was at the beginning of the year and compare that to right now I notice a significant and positive change. I feel like right now I am finally riding in the saddle.