Why I’ll Never Be a Perfect Teacher

It’s what we all strive for, right? We aim to have the perfect lesson plan, perfect behaviour management and perfect understanding of the topics. We take every noisy outburst, every non-fun activity, every question we can’t answer as a sign that we are not good enough.

I know I can beat myself up about this often. I want my classes to be engaging and dynamic, and when my best-laid plans fizzle out and go astray, I blame myself. I’m not dedicated enough; I need more time. We say no to family, friend or me-time and in the end, it burns us out.

A few weeks ago, I stayed up late, trying to prepare a lesson for creative writing in my English class. I wanted to tailor it to my students, knowing that they prefer shorter activities, moving around the room and need plenty of opportunities for application. After doing extensive reading of our class text and noting down the relevant page references, I made activity cards for several ‘stations’ around the room. I made them look pretty and laminated them (because I’d put in all this hard work; I needed to save these for future classes!)

When it came time to complete the activity, students had their best go and seemed to be learning a few things. It was all worth it! Then there was one loud voice in the class, calling out, “This is boring” and “I’m not learning anything”. I was gutted. I looked around the room again and started to pick out all the things I had done wrong. Could I have had fewer stations? Should I have used a video to make it more engaging? Would I ever get it right?

I chewed over this lesson far more than I really needed to. In the end, I had to remind myself that I am a human being. I will never be perfect. It just can’t happen. And you know what? I don’t think I have ever expected perfection from a peer or student, so I shouldn’t do this to myself.

So now I’m going to be brave and say, I’m okay with not being the perfect teacher. It is not humanly possible and pursuing this lofty goal means my family and mental health suffer. More than that, I’m okay with not being the perfect teacher because it means I am a learning teacher.

We encourage students to develop a growth mindset. We want them to say, “I don’t know it yet.” Shouldn’t we model this in our own learning journey? Yeah, I’m still going to be organised, and aim to get all homework back on time. I’ll keep chipping away at making my classes interesting and productive. I’m also going to make a point to discuss my process with students though. They need to see me making mistakes and working hard to improve. They need to see me saying, “I don’t know yet”.

Each year, I negotiate expectations in the classroom. When I make my pretty poster and put it on display in the classroom, I always have a little note at the bottom saying: You don’t have to be perfect. We’re all still learning. In this class, we aim to grow.

It’s time to take my own advice.

Download the poster: 306-487-1199

Literal idioms

After seeing Keren Rosenberg’s lovely interpretations of idioms, I was inspired to do something similar in class.

This activity had a high success rate, regardless of the students’ artistic abilities. It was a lot easier to have the discussion about the difference between literal and figurative language as we completed the drawings.

 

 

Digging for History

The hand-painted mug.

 

Recently, my Grade 3/4 class investigated how we can learn about history.

 

I buried some objects in the sand pit before class. I decided not to go with the usual fake bones. Instead, I chose items that might tell us something about who made them. In the end, we had a dreamcatcher made from sticks and wool, a metal paperweight bird, a hand-painted mug and an old stamp.

 

Each group had a section of the pit to dig in using a palette knife and old paintbrush. They needed to record their observations and thoughts using the 5074787285. They could record their ideas about what time period the object came from and what kind of technology they might have had. They could also note down their thoughts about the excavation process.

 

The little bird paperweight.

 

After this lesson, groups needed to determine what time period each of the objects came from. This ended up being a fantastic activity because students needed to justify their ideas. I heard some great conversations and recorded these observations as ongoing assessment.

 

This lesson helped to engage students and prepare them for our next lesson- learning about the Lake Mungo site.

 

Why I love the State Library

In a small, rural school, it can be so tricky to gain access to resources. Our budgets are stretched, so we need to utilise the library. We often refer to the ‘tyranny of distance’ and shake our fist in the air at the fictional deities of library access.

I recently went to a professional learning day at the State Library of Victoria. Here are the reasons why I am super dooper excited about my membership.

  1. Membership is free. Who doesn’t love something for nothing? It’s so easy, so students can join too.
  2. I can access resources from home. While I’m in my PJs, I can casually read John Batman’s journal, view images from S.T. Gill of the goldfields or Bill Gammage’s Biggest Estate on Earth. And that is just for my VCE Australian History class! It’s also helpful that some resources can be downloaded for later.
  3. It’s not just for history. There are research guides for a number of topics. Some are specifically for VCE subjects like (267) 253-9465, 7274010515. You can also find art, business, fashion, law, geography and health. These research guides give access to books, first-hand sources and journal articles. They also explain how to research the topic.
  4. The resources are high quality. I feel like I’m preparing my students for university when I show them how to search ProQuest for articles. I get even more excited by the fact that they can take control of their learning, rather than being limited by their class textbook. I know on this site they will be directed to sources of information with a good reputation.

I have only really scratched the surface. The site is so extensive, I will be learning about this for years to come.

Do you use the SLV site? What are your favourite features?

 

-Sarah