Learning The Art of Teacherly Love

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 31 2012

Keeping a Straight Face

As we are approaching “High Five Friday!” of our first full week of school, there are a few things I need to write down and let go, and other things I need to hold on to, for the tougher days ahead.

Let’s start with Monday, the first day of “official instruction.”  This means, we’re supposed to teach… real things.  I was the exception .  It was my first day to introduce my students to their real schedules, and all the ins and outs of our home.
Monday… That was a challenging day… By the end of Monday my body felt like I had just finished a week of practice and competed in a gymnastics meet, and by Tuesday I was incredibly sore, and tired, from being so tense and nervous the entire day, not to mention going up and down three flights of stairs about 10 times… Monday I was stressed, scared, and completely unsure of myself…
By Thursday though, the classroom is running rather smoothly.  We are all getting used to our schedules, daily routines, and really getting in to our groove.

So here it is, the first thing I need to let go:
I am a “developing” teacher.
I may have been born with a passion for learning, but that does not mean I was born a great teacher.  I am learning to become one.  I realized today, after my math lessons seemed to flop the past two days, that I need to be a little less self-critical, and a little more understanding.  I did not learn a double back on floor, or a jaeger on bars, in 2 days… In fact, the jaeger took me 2 years to get right.  With drills (like the graduate school work I did…) and practice, I can become a great teacher.  And, as my fellow teacher put it, “Who cares if you’re developing the rest of your life?  The kids don’t care if it’s your first day, or your 30th year.  They just want you to care enough to keep getting better.  Which is exactly what we expect from them, too.”


And now, the thing I want to hold on to.  Let me share with you some of the joys of Special Education…


Picture this my board room occupants and office presentation givers:

You are gathered around the conference table (or “The Small Group Table” in our classroom), going over some very important information that could help your company become better at what they do (in our case, it was “Strategies to Solve Addition Problems with Numbers 0-18″).  You are giving your power point presentation on your valuable information, which you have already told your audience is crucial to your company’s development, and then… as you are presenting your biggest, most imperative point… your colleague sitting next you, stands up, waves his arms around in the air and shakes his butt, while producing his own beat with his mouth.

This was my math lesson today.

My friend, who I strategically placed next to me so I could keep him more focused and help him more often… My wonderful friend, who I had already asked approximately 5 times (in less than 8 minutes) to sit with his bottom on his chair… Mid-lesson, mid-problem even!, stood up, waved his arms above his head, and shook his booty to his own pseudo-beat box.


At first, I responded very sternly, with just his name… But I had not yet turned my head to get the full view of exactly what it was he was doing… And when I did… First, just a small smile began to crack on my face… I quickly looked away, trying to stifle it, trying to keep a straight face… But that method definitely did not work.
I laughed.  
Mid-lesson, I laughed with my students.

My booty-shaking friend, mind you, does not speak all that much, in fact he was previously classified as “Selectively Mute.”  Yet, he seems to be comfortable enough in our room, and with me, to just be himself, and bust a move.
That, my fellow teachers would agree, is an amazing thing.
And it is moments like that, where you have force to yourself to keep a straight face, that remind me why I love Special Education.

Next steps for me, and my friend:

Develop better “Straight Face Strategies” so I send the message that booty-shaking time is NOT during math. :)


A snapshot of my daily “Welcome to Work” view from my desk:

What an awesome reminder from God of why I am there…
To shine Light on my students’ strengths, bring light to their areas of darkness…
and love them as consistently as the sun rise..

One Response

  1. good points. i conisder myself good at math and have always made at least a b most semesters. i failed math freshmen because i had a really bad teacher, and i think it would benefit us as a population if we are learning precalc and calc, just dont cram it down our throats haha but another good point on 5, a class with material that would benefit us financially would be amazing and about making the classroom environment more fun, in my math class we sit in groups of 4 and collaborate. this works

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Dare to Teach with Love… Never cease to Learn.

Greater Philadelphia
Elementary School
Special Education

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