A part of my teaching life is paralyzed by feelings of perpetual professional inadequacy. And I feel like I am not alone.
I mean I finally get a grip on how to effectively teach theme and then I recognize the value that incorporating a classroom wiki could have. So I learn how to add this tool to my growing digital teaching arsenal but realize that there are some really high qualities insights to be gained by doing a bit more reading on using inquiry in the classroom. So I start to dive into inquiry theory when the idea of crafting a variance on student portfolios rears its head. Of course, there’s finding new ways to make Langston Hughes more accessible, figuring out if there is a better way to manage the paperwork, taking on a few more school duties so that I am really a part of a team and not just an island among other islands in this thing we called a “unified school district” even though it seems as though we are really quite separate and distinct from one another in so many various ways…
and on and on and on.
I mean, I am never at a place of just feeling comfortable with my current repertoire or abilities. There is always more to learn how to do unless I want to bury my head in the sand about the idea of the need for me to learn more in order for me to do a better job with kids.
But there is so much to learn — and so much that I am teaching once I learn it — that not even summer really provides me a sense of respite. It’s like people have this image of educator as summertime loafers who simply put school in a box,close the lid then fish, nap and grill on the bbq until back-to-school season rolls around.
Yet none of the teachers I admire (and there are scores of them) really approach their jobs — or their summers — this way. Sure, they relax over summer, take a trip and chill or whatever, but do they forget their classrooms? School? The plight of contemporary American education?
Or, do they already show a ton of concern for kids they have not yet even yet met (think about that, we deeply care for people we have not even yet met) and conjure up ways to better reach and teach them even if it is the middle of July and there’s not a school bell set to ring for well over a fortnight? (BTW, I always wanted to use the word fortnight in my writing. Check that off the list of things to do before I die.)
So, how do I get over the hump of feeling as if I still need to learn so much more? Is to be a teacher really to be a perpetual student? Does one ever ascend to the level of “master” and if so, does mastery mean you need to work less hard, as hard, or more hard in order to to learn the mysterious ways of the secret ninja teacher warrior?