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I used to be envious of others until I realized, everybody faces challenges.


Last week…

I had the pleasure of observing teachers teach. One new teacher “Gabriel”, in particular was so brave and vulnerable in his approach that I just know he is destined for greatness. “Gabriel” posed a problem that I immediately knew would be too challenging for his students based on what I had seen them do the week before. I predicted (to myself) that many of the students would turn off their cameras when they saw the problem and they did. In addition, a few of the students were stuck on what approach to take in order to solve the problem. “Gabriel” attempted to use questions to guide the students in the right direction. The students remained stuck. I offered to work with the students in a break out room, but the “Gabriel” refused my offer.

After the lesson, “Gabriel” and I debriefed how the lesson went. He was stressed out because his colleagues were much further along in the unit, and as much as he was trying, his students were not comprehending the concepts. He believed that this was a sure sign of his poor teaching skills. However, when he was planning the lesson he thought the problem was too complex for his students, but he wanted to keep up with the program and he posed the problem anyway. The minute he put the problem up on the screen he realized the problem was too challenging and wished he had followed his instincts. In an effort to keep up with others we often talk ourselves out of good ideas. Gabriel discussed the different problem types and what might be the most appropriate problems to use with his students next. We immediately planned out 3 problems the teacher could use for his follow-up lessons. I also reminded Gabriel to use what he knew about his students when designing instruction and to follow his teacher instincts since he knew right away that the problems were not a good fit for his students.

Gabriel also told me the reason he turned down my offer to work with the students in the break out room was because he would not learn how to resolve such issues for himself if I continued to come to the rescue ( I do love to come to a teacher’s rescue). He wanted me to observe him as he worked through challenges and provide him with honest and constructive feedback (if I wasn’t already married, just kidding!!!) Gabriel was humble, honest, and most of all able to reflect on what his students did well and the additional support he and his students needed. These are all the key ingredients of a fantastic teacher and I can’t wait to see what Gabriel does next.

Having a perfect bitmoji and virtual classroom with lots of links and downloads is not what makes a great teacher. Completing the textbook unit at the same time as our grade level colleagues does not make us great teachers. We don’t need to perfect like the Joneses, the Joneses aren’t even perfect.  Being honest about the state of our students and ourselves is what is in the best interest of all. Don’t worry about what is happening next door, take care of yourself, ask for help when you need it, remember to stay humble and honest and everything else will work itself out.

I wish the best for you and your family this holiday season and I will see you in 2021. Cheers!