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I’m a Better Teacher Now Than I’ve Ever Been…

I teach everything from kids with horrifically unfortunate home lives to those with two parents and who live in million dollar homes (in my area that’s a very fine home).  We serve them all and we love them all, not that it’s always easy. Especially for struggling teachers.

Teachers in their first few years often come out of college lacking classroom management knowledge and experience. And they struggle…especially those in areas of poverty.  In order to teach, you have to have structure in place and while that is best for all kids; impoverished areas typically have higher incidences of discipline and are harder for middle class teachers to manage.  Much of it is lack of cultural understanding but a lot has to do with how you deliver information and plan for processes in class.

I know these things because I am a 15-year veteran and I am a highly effective and passionate teacher.  My student testimonies, reputation in my community, respect of my colleagues, and formal evaluations speak to that expertise.  But that doesn’t make me perfect. In fact, it helps me recognize that I’m far from it. That being said, however, I’m a better teacher now than I’ve ever been. This is thanks, in larger part, to working with No-Nonsense Nurturer and Real Time Teacher Coaching from CT3.

I use this with all of my classes, from our lowest academic level classes to International Baccalaureate. Yes, yes I have sipped from the Kool-Aid. But why wouldn’t I? I mean, no one would argue that teaching is the most important job in the world. So why would anyone argue against a program that makes me a better teacher? I deserve it.

I’ve earned the right to be challenged and I deserve to get the support I need to be a better teacher.

The programs from CT3 work but like anything else, they are not a quick fix or a substitute for good teaching.  You have to be passionate and love what you do to be a teacher.  But passion alone is not enough.  Love for the kids is not enough.  You have to have high standards, excellent preparation and you have to quarterback that classroom to encourage ALL students to be better than they were the day before.  You have to nurture students WITHOUT pity or enabling.  It’s not as simple as I make it look.

One component of the program, MVP (movement, voice, participation), helps me think about my directions and ensure I am being clear.  The discipline steps are delivered with compassion. I take time to speak to students individually and monitor their emotional and academic progress.  I use incentives to help students work as a group.  My students know I care about them and love them too much to let them settle.

And I know something else – there is no program that you introduce that I will in any way follow that requires me to change who I am at the core.  

I would never allow myself to be a robot or do a disservice to my students.  Their education is too precious for me to experiment in this way.  I take risks in my lessons but there are some things not up for debate. And the best teachers are the ones sure enough in themselves to expect as much from their coaches. It does no good to complain about it after the fact.

As teachers, we have to put in the work every day to hold high expectations and support the personalities in our rooms.  Blaming a program for failure is much easier than admitting you are not cut out for the job. Teaching is not for everyone and I see wonderful people who love kids fail because it’s hard.

I wrote earlier that it’s the most important job in the world. Safe to say it’s also one of the hardest. The hours suck, the pay is not commensurate with the experience, the rules are constantly changing and the real payoff is not immediately seen.  We are abused by the public and have to constantly defend our profession against attacks by politicians and pundits.  It is not a career for everyone and many trained teachers find success in other areas such as corporate training, administration, business and the like. There is no shame in that, but you have to be man or woman enough to say, “it’s not for me,” without blaming others. The only shame is in complaining that it’s everyone else’s fault but your own. In that case, time to leave the classroom.

My time and focus is on my own children and on the kids in room 2904. This time is too precious to waste on programs that don’t work or on people who can’t hold themselves accountable to a high standard.

You can choose not to believe me about this work, but I know who I am, my family knows who I am, my students know who I am, the families I serve know who I am and my district knows who I am.  And they know that I am still teaching and working and struggling and thriving because I care enough to do those things without looking for excuses to hide behind.

Maybe that’s why I’m still here, and why I’m so damn good at it.

by Amanda Setters, Teacher
Ohio

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