Last year, I would’ve given my left leg to be able to not worry too much about management and only focus on content. Sure, I was so in over my head worrying about how to make Synquel stop cursing me out and keep desks from flying out the window that the scripted curriculum was a blessing. Lesson planning would have defeated me; but I still wanted the chance to show that in SOME ways I was a good teacher. That if it was just content, I could and would succeed!
This year, I see how naive I was. My management is still not tip-top, and my organization is a sorry flop, but those don’t matter as much. I have seniors, and many of them are intrinsically well-behaved enough that cell phone usage, sleeping in class, and the occasional cursing/talking back is the worst of my problems (right now.) And all these problems could be solved with better content instruction! Which I do not, it turns out, seem to have.
I love writing passionately; I have a skill for it, or at least a perceived skill, that makes the outlet fulfilling and fun. My students do not have that investment however. They do not write well because they do not write often, and to be creative is to be a weirdo, or to be ostracized. They all have stories to tell, but I have no clue how to take those stories and make them into skills that transfer over to help them beyond my class. I don’t know how to make them even STAY AWAKE during my class.
More than anything, I now see how important instruction is. I am more of a believer that yes, discipline is needed and enforcement even more so, but at the heart of the problem is that we are not igniting the minds of our children. Not that we are bad instructors, just that the instruction and delivery will interest and ignite them is very different than, I think, the way in which we teachers–an older generation and one that was inherently more privileged–were necessarily educated.