Posted in Teaching and Learning

I still learned about friction Miss.

This week I have been pulled in all sorts of directions, and it has showed in my classes today. I wasn’t quite prepared, things didn’t go according to plan, I forgot that 23 of my year 12’s were out on a field trip so I only had 5, I didn’t have the equipment I needed for pracs and everything was just a bit shabby. And I used the same lesson for my two year 10 classes, which just doesn’t work as they are such different classes. So I have had a crappy day. I want to vent at people, blame things out of my control, and whine that I couldn’t restart after school as I had to go and ref the girls football in the mud that was mascaraeding as the football pitch. (actually, football was probably the best part of my day at school)

On top of that reports are due, I’ve had deans meetings and parents coming in, snow days (sounds good till you have a small person so actually do loose a day of work) and sports days, so I have been all over the show.

I came home, played with my wee man and put him to bed and did my usual check out twitter. And it was full of awesome things that awesome people are doing, and it made the bad day seem worse. Does no-one else fail?

Which leads me to my chicken egg moment -today I did fail. I did not do my job well. As a teacher it is very hard to model failure – when I fail the students don’t see it as something to learn from, they see it as frustrating, hard, too easy, a chance to ‘climb the walls’. Failing as a teacher isn’t always an option. Sometimes it can take weeks to get back what you lost.

If we don’t know something, it is sometimes interpreted by anxious students as incompetence, or kids not quite engaged as just another failure. It is so often when a member of the senior team walks in the door (this did happen today also). We very rarely get the chance to meet with people and brainstorm ways to improve our performance. We get left to our own devices in a room with 150 odd kids coming through the door in a day for an hour with no idea of what mood they are in, what they have eaten and how the next hour will go. A phone call or an e-mail and we spend hours defending/explaining/apologising for an off the cuff comment. We are expected to be professionals, in control and ready. And not to fail.

So I am going to have to take a step back and think carefully about how I plan my lessons again. And put my other comittments to the side a little bit and just focus on getting my classes running better –  And really, I should expect the same from my students – if they have taken too much on, you need to prune and rationalise. If only I could prune reports.

But I still want to work towards the culture that failure is an acceptable part of life, and we can learn from it. But what could a teacher fail at? How could I model this behaviour in my classroom? How can I make my classroom safe for me as well as my students?

I am not accepting my current ‘failure’ of terrible lessons today. And bless one wee kiddo who said (when I said to the class I hadn’t felt the lesson had gone that well and that when I see them next week we will restart) – ‘I still learned about friction Miss’.

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