Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Overcoming the bad teaching days...

I had an awful day today.  I taught a 1-day lesson for the second day, and my students still didn't get the point.  The lesson was not over a new concept, and - in my opinion - they should have done fine.  I gave a few students ineffective "talking to's" outside... blah blah blah.

And I left school wanting to blame something or someone other than myself for what happened and what has been happening - lack of parental support, lax school discipline, not enough special education services, etc. Anyone but myself.  Of course - I'm mainly to blame.  I didn't scaffold the lesson enough.  I stepped out of the room to talk with a student and wasn't there to help/supervise my students. I didn't call any of my students' parents.  I wasn't enthusiastic enough.

In a way, I can thank my students for keeping me on my toes.  In another school, with higher performing students, a poorly planned lesson might be just fine.  But not at my school and not in many of the high-needs schools across the nation.  I think effective teaching and classroom management CAN overcome many of the gaps in other areas of students' schooling.  But is it also true that effective school structures can help minimize types of days like I had today?  Because even though a teacher may be very effective - there's no way to completely avoid bad teaching days.

In a high-achieving school, students might overcome obstacles and find ways to complete a difficult assignment anyway - because they want the good grade.  Or because their parents force them to.  But in a low-performing school, a day with a lesson that doesn't provide enough access (like my day today) is just lost.  So... I will try to be a better teacher tomorrow.  And I will keep in mind that the stakes are high for me to be an effective teacher every day.  But what can I advocate for my school to put in place to help minimize the time lost by my mistakes? Or by other teachers' bad days?

Study hall? Tutoring? Strict discipline policies? Rewards for good behavior/grades? None of the above?

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