1000 days ago (1001, to be exact) I wrote a post about having fun in the classroom. I wrote another one (about 870 days ago) about variety and avoiding boredom in the classroom. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of these things. I got bored and I started being the kind of teacher I always told myself I’d never be: unadaptable, stuck in my ways, unwilling and unable to see that what I was doing wasn’t working, and refusing to try something new. I committed 2 of the biggest teacher sins: losing sight of why I’m even teaching and blaming the students for not being successful.
It’s hard to say that out loud.
When I was a student and a beginning teacher, full of enthusiasm and excitement, I promised myself I’d never be like the teachers that are there for a paycheck. Teaching would always be more than just a job. It would be a calling and craft that I would spend my career perfecting. Somewhere along the way, through difficult a difficult classroom situation and stress with some of my colleagues, I let myself get caught up in the negativity spiral that can so easily take over a teacher’s outlook. I forgot why I was there.
Where was my brain?
I have spent the beginning of this summer reflecting on the last few months (actually, the last few years). I have to face some hard truths:
- I have become that teacher I said I would never be.
- I have become the teacher who just goes through the motions.
- I spent the last year or so doing things that look like Spanish instruction, but weren’t actually teaching.
- I spent the year as a constant complainer, just looking for things to be unhappy about.
- I spent the year apathetic towards making myself a better teacher: I stopped reflecting on successes and failures, I stopped participating in Langchat discussions, I stopped reading the blogs I follow…I checked out from it all.
Just a bit of a fixer-upper
Now, I’m done feeling bad about my teaching and I’m done being a teacher I never wanted to be. I can’t go back and change the year of ambivalence and frustration, but I can make a change now to fix it in the future. Here’s how I’m planning to fix it:Going over the basicsit’s back to the books for me…
- Classroom management, Second Language Acquisition, Foreign Language Teaching Methods; all those old textbooks have been dusted off so I can hit the books again and remind myself why I became interested in language teaching in the first place.
- Reading past reflections
- The main purpose of this blog is to be able to reflect on what i’ve done in the past, so why haven’t I looked back on it for inspiration? There are 89 posts (this is number 90) full of my reflections from 3 years of teaching. Since I’ve forgotten so much about what I am doing in the classroom, I plan to go back and see what I liked about it when I was excited about it.
- Jumping back into the world of language teachers Photo Source
- I don’t have other language teachers at my school, so the best thing for my career has been the community of teachers on Twitter. I plan to jump back into this world with both feet so that I can get help from all the amazing teachers I have gotten to know through the past few years. There are so many people who are willing to lend an ear or a word of advice when another teacher is struggling
- Bring back to a positive attitude
- No more complaining! This isn’t to say that I am planning on not being frustrated or not having bad days, but I am planning on finding the silver lining in the darkest cloud. The reason I haven’t spoken up on Twitter or posted on this blog in a while is that I didn’t have anything positive to say. I thought that silence was better than negativity. And in some ways, it is–no one wants to hear a teacher whine about why they don’t like what they’re doing. But at the same time, the “silence is better than negativity” mindset isn’t very healthy.
- When I look back over past posts, I find that I have written a lot about frustrations in the classroom with students, other teachers, or program issues. In writing about them on this blog, I have been able to work through them to be able to find the positive hidden in the negative. There’s always something good about a negative situation, it sometimes takes a lot of effort to find it. I forgot about that and forgot why I wanted to find it in the first place.
I hope that this post hasn’t been too rambling or complain-y. My goal is to get back in the saddle and get back to normal. My hope for this post is that by sharing what I’ve forgotten and my plan to change, I can help other teachers who are feeling similarly to know that there’s always a time to make a change. The best part of teaching is the ability to start fresh every day. Whether it’s a new year, new quarter, new week, or even a new day or the next period, we have the ability to change our mindsets and be the best teachers we can be. We can always recalibrate and find the positive hidden in the negative.