After one long, arduous day, students in my seventh period were hard at work on their personal narratives. Around the room you could hear the clacking of keyboard keys and my co-teacher speaking to students about their writing. As I was working my way around the room to help each student, I went over to one of my students with autism who was watching YouTube videos on his computer (for this story, we will call him Bobby) and asked him what he was working on.
“I AM DOING MY WRITING!” Bobby yelled in a high-pitch voice.
“Bobby, that is not an appropriate volume to speak to me in. Thank you for doing your work. I will leave you alone,” I responded in a calm but stern voice as I have been trained to do.
I walked around to a few more students and then busied myself with some work. All of a sudden, Bobby came bounding across the room in long leaps with a smile on his face. As he got to the front of the rows of desks, I stated, “Bobby you are supposed to be sitting down writing right now.” In the same high-pitched voice, he yelled, “I’M GETTING A PENCIL!” Then, in a much softer voice, he whispered, “Idiot.” I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Could I have gotten enraged and been mad at him? Sure. But I decided to stay humble because, yes, I was being an idiot. Bobby is generally on-task and I should have asked what he was doing instead of telling him what to do. Bobby helped teach me that sometimes I just need to #stayhumble. Thanks, Bobby.
If I was in a tragedy, my tragic flaw would be pride. I struggle with it and insecurity simultaneously. It is quite oxymoronic. When it comes to my profession, I want to be a perfectionist. I want to have the best classroom, the best lessons and the best results. I often feel inadequate at the end of the day because I know I could have done so much more, but I want others to see my classes as successful. As a student, I was very intrinsically motivated by grades, and I am the same way with positive praise now. If I had it my way, I wouldn’t receive a negative comment in my life. I obviously chose the wrong profession because there is ALWAYS something to improve on as a teacher. There are new philosophies to learn, new ways to make the students successful and new challenges each day. Therefore, there’s always something an administrator or fellow teacher can tell me to improve on.
My default setting when I am faced with feedback is to be defensive. “Who? Me? Do something wrong? Never!” I want to say. It takes a lot of work for me to #stayhumble and realize that I have just as much improving to do as anyone else. I don’t have this job figured out, and I have a lot of work to do before I can even call myself a good teacher. I struggle with reaching students who have apathy about school. I struggle with parent contact over the phone. I struggle with not staying behind my desk too much. I struggle. every. single. day.
It is so important that I admit these struggles and keep these in mind as I receive feedback from those around me. I need to remember that teaching is not for my glory, it is hopefully for the kids. Bobby is a great reminder that keeps me constantly working to improve my attitude. I’m working hard to #stayhumble. Are you?