Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Respectful Teaching

I'm feeling internal conflict about myself as a teacher. I want to do cool involved hands on learner centered projects and activities, but I need to have some resources left over at the end of the day for myself and my family and the world outside of school.

That struggle has really got me thinking about what does respectful teaching look like. I think it's balanced--not all quiet or all noisy. I think it considers the needs of the teacher as well as the needs of the learners. (This is a new one for me!) I think it accepts imperfection from both parties. I think respectful teaching is always striving for better, not perfect. I think respectful teaching steps back and lets the learner make mistakes, question, and accept responsibility for wise and unwise choices. I think respectful teaching has a positive twist, but spends time in the shadows, too.

The bottom line is that respectful teaching is a complicated and lonely path. It's hard. It's living in the gray, when everything in the profession is supposed to be quantifiable. I think there is always going to be a tug of war, but I want to learn how to embrace the struggle, instead of being afraid I might lose the war.

These are some ways I'm embracing respectful teaching this week:

1. Writing a letter back to every student in correct letter format to which they will respond.
2. Giving myself permission to not meet with reading groups this week.
3. Talking to every child about their choices around behavior, talking, and self control.
4. Accepting the imperfection of running 6 experiment stations in science.
5. Beginning to plan for student led conferences in 4 weeks.
6. Digging myself out from under the filing, forms, graded and ungraded papers.

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