Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Imperfect Classroom

It seems like since becoming involved in social media, lots of doors have been opened. I see into spectacular teachers' classrooms on a regular basis. I beg, borrow, and steal (with attribution) from awesome people all over the place. I talk about the good things that happen in my classroom. I talk about the bad things that happen on my classroom.

And, given all the awesome I get to see from other connected educators, I'm more vexed than ever that I have students that are disengaged. I'm bothered that I can't create the climate of excellence in my classroom that lets me move away from grades. A climate that gets students to do their best always. That gets rid if the 'how many points is this worth' mentality. That attempts to reach this point have both been unsuccessful and made my assessment this year kind of a hot mess.

I can't explain why I couldn't reach two students who chose not to do one of the most spectacular projects that we do. A project that everyone does. And everyone talks about for the rest of their high school career and beyond.

I can't logic out why kids are still sometimes creating things that are less then their best. Why when given choice around subject matter and the way they demonstrate their knowledge, products are still being created that demonstrate less thought and use of classtime than are appropriate.

I'm stuck in a rut with a few kids: I can't get their focus for my class period. They are highly capable students. They are successful and thoughtful in other classes. But I don't have the answers - or choices - that they need to be successful right now.

In this age of the global teacher this is hard to stomach. I see so many people doing so many great things with their students and I wonder why that isn't happening in my room.

It isn't teacher jealousy: jealousy implies a desire for someone to do less well or be less good at something. I want the ninjas in my PLN to keep inspiring me with the great things they are doing in their classroom.

It's a feeling of not-good-enough. A feeling of frustration. And it's kind of a dangerous game.

Before I was a connected educator, I was looking into classrooms on my campus. Now the pool is so much bigger. I get to look into a LOT of classrooms and hear about what is going on in them. And that opens my eyes to what I COULD be doing. And I know I'm not the only connected educator that feels that way.

Being connected makes the bar that much higher. Being connected therefore makes the shortcomings in my classroom that much more visible to me.

So what's the answer? I wish I had one. Keep sharing. Keep listening. Keep taking to people. Keep asking yourself how that awesome thing that that teacher does in AP Chemistry - keep asking how and what does that look like in my world history class.

Keep asking how. Keep asking why. Keep asking 'what if.'

Keep listening to our students.

Get better. Iterate. Try things. Listen to people way smarter than me - and yes, this definitely includes my students.

Steal more ideas. Try and fail more. And keep listening. That's the only way forward.