Points of View May Vary

Brigitte’s follow up meeting with her administrator was different than she thought it would be, for those who remember her comment here of a few weeks ago in which she felt that the kids “froze up” when an administrator walked in. Really, we are often our own worst critics, right?
Hi Ben,
I wanted to give you an update on my “frozen” observation.
We had our post-ob conference this morning and my principal (I teach in two separate buildings and this was my first observation of the year in his school) had nothing by praise for my lesson.  Go figure!  He is a very approachable and super supportive individual, so I felt comfortable enough sharing with him my true feelings about the lesson and how I thought that I had not lived up to the hype I made about the method and how it gets kids excited about wanting to contribute to and/or become part of the story.  He insisted that he did not see it that way at all and to him everyone seemed highly engaged, albeit a bit reluctant when prompted for “cute” details.  Plus, he said that maybe it was his fault and he should have put them at ease by talking to them at the beginning of the lesson rather than just coming in without a word and sitting down at my desk.  Clearly, I am blessed with a real “Mensch” in this building!
My biggest problem seems to be my lack of self-confidence when it comes to that stuff.  I continually get great reviews but, still, I never believe that what I am doing is good enough.
My comment: I feel the honesty here. Why do we never think we are doing good enough work? That is a big topic. For one thing, we know the potential that lies in CI and how far we are from those rare and seemingly far off days of flying. Also, we are taught to think that there is always a goal to reach, that “some day we’re going to get this – then we’ll have a party, a wrap up party”. It’s like we think we are never going to get there. But the truth is we’re doing just fine. We are where we are and that’s just fine. We work hard. That’s enough. Actually, not working hard is enough, and in CI is a very important quality if you read what John wrote today about his classes:
“I wanted to review a story and make sure the kids understood it, so I just took a small ball, tossed it to anyone who would translate a line or two. It kept things going, and we stopped a few times to field questions. clarify, etc. At the end of class, one of my more difficult students said to no one in particular without a hint of irony: “that was a great class.” Even though we were doing the un-exciting work of translating and reviewing a reading, the feeling was easy-going and playful. They will remember the content of today’s lesson, because of how it made them feel.”
And I can’t get out of my mind what Michael said about working from sun up to sundown last year and then taking graduate credits in the evening. We work hard all right. We deserve to keep our focus on what we are doing right. Some of us have decades to learn this stuff, to let it unfold. Others are scrambling as fast as they can, like me. If you are a young teacher with this, you have no right to be worrying. It will all come to you in good time and the same people looking at you with scorn right now will be asking for your forgiveness and advice sooner than you think, if they still have jobs.
What Brigitte wrote about is how we should be observed, and that mensch that observed Brigitte knows what he is doing. He’s not going to lose a good teacher over some bullshit thing like not writing a kid up who walks in tardy. He knows when he sees happy kids because in most rooms he walks into he merely sees kids putting up with it.
Thanks for this report, Brigitte – I’m not at all surprised. God protect us from all the unnecessary worry we constantly put into this work. A friend of mine said to me once (I wrote it down):
“Why is it important to a person to always make one’s life harder than necessary? Surrender the desire to do for others and begin to enjoy life. Just enjoy teaching! If you say you enjoy teaching, then why make it into massive overdoing?”
It’s a good question, right?



5 thoughts on “Points of View May Vary”

  1. It is, indeed, a very good question. Especially since I truly do enjoy teaching, more than anything I ever did before (I am a career changer , having found my true calling later in life).
    I also read John’s post and it did give me pause – it made me realize that even when a class seems “low energy” from my perspective, the kids are still learning, and most importantly, deriving pleasure from it. John, you seem to have perfected the art of being in the moment and letting the energy from the kids flow naturally. This is an aspect I still need to work on (like so many others).
    And now I will go and enjoy a weekend free of worries, and I wish the same for all of you!

  2. and Brigette….our “low energy” classes are a world away from other people’s classes. Walk around your building and peek in doorways. Unless it is a lab, teachers talk and kids sit in silence. Having a class that is interactive is a real eye-opener for many administrators. It is one of the reasons that when we, as TPRSers, have a truly interactive group, that classroom control can be an issue. I have seen where admins see a lively group, all working in the TL, and the observing admins only saw chaos.
    SO GLAD that the follow-up went well!!
    with love,
    PS Congrats to my friend Meghan who also had a great observation this week!!!

    1. Thanks, Laurie. It is so helpful to get others’ perspectives on this whole high/low energy issue. What you say is so true in that it all depends on who is looking at it.

  3. I enjoyed reading this blog post. I have the same problem. I always feel that the lesson could have gone much better. I want the kids to enjoy every class, and when the energy level is down I feel like I’ve lost them. I guess I have to remember that I am not an entertainer. Also, it is my first year in a new building, and although the admin have given positive feedback, I can’t seem to relax and think that I’m doing good enough work. If something negative happens I dwell on it much more than necessary. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one. Hopefully, having read this post will help me relax this coming week.

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