Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yikes! I Don't Know What I'm Doing!

After seven years, one quarter, and 4ish weeks of being a teacher, I still have days when I think to myself, "Yikes, I don't know what I am doing!"  These thoughts generally occur to me and send me into a state of panic on the last day of a break, such as today.  I know I'll have the same feeling on Jan. 2nd, and the last day of spring break, and again on the last day of next summer.

When we've had more than 3 days off, I tend to think I have no idea what I am doing.  I forget about the previous 7 years, 1 quarter, and 4 weeks, and start to panic.  I stare at my lesson plan template for a Monday and think "I have no idea what we are going to do tomorrow."

I start to breathe a little faster.  And I close my eyes and imagine the resources I have in my room so I can think of something to put into the lesson plans.  My head says "Am I really responsible for 8 little kids and their education?  What do I know?"  And I sit with my eyes closed and my fingers on the keyboard.

Three years ago, I used to walk into my principal's office after each break and, I would tell her "I don't know what I'm doing."

She would stare at me, then laugh a little.

"What?  Yes you do.  Go back to your room."  This was her response after the third time I did this.

Hahahahahaha... That was exactly the answer I needed.

Yes I do.  I know what I'm doing.  I know what we are doing next, and even though I teach something different at this time every single year to every single kid, I know exactly where we are headed.  And I know it, inherently now.

You see, there were years when I would pull out the content standard books.  And there were years when I would have the books and the website pulled up at the same time so I could reference the content standard as quick as possible.  And then I could check it off.  I would sit with old lesson plans of each student and check off where we'd been and where we were headed.  I would keep each IEP next to me to make sure I included goals and objectives each day so I could instruct and then assess regularly to keep data.  I would keep a chart for each student of both IEP objectives and then content standards to make sure each student was introduced and instructed on each standard...

But now, after the panic settled, and I remembered what my former principal used to tell me, I could breathe again.

I know exactly where we've been and exactly where we are going.

And if you asked me about any 1 of those 8 students, I could tell you, without having to look it up.  I could tell you about his or her data.  I could tell you about his or her likes and dislikes, his triggers, her favorite foods, his best friend, her new "stim" and all her former "stims."  I could tell you how many times I've tried to teach her how to count coins in how many different ways. I can tell you what meds she's on and what he eats for breakfast every day.  I can tell you how long he's been working on the Dolch Primer Sight Word List.  I can likely tell you what joke he may tell during circle time or what icon she may click first 99 out of 100 times on the computer.

But I have to remind myself that I know these things.  I have to write blogs to be able to reflect on these facts.  I have to remember these things when I hear those comments about being "status quo" or "mediocre."

Because at least 4 times a year, I forget that I know, and I question myself.

Please believe that I still look things up once in a while and still reference IEPs and content standards, but often, it's to confirm things I already know.

And today I can confirm something I already knew, that I was meant to be a teacher.

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