Thursday, March 21, 2013

First Year Teachers: Beware of "Just Winging It"

"I read a lot of non-fiction, especially parenting books. John Rosemund and Dr. James Dobson are my favorites, " I stated enthusiastically to a colleague and fellow parent one sunny afternoon.

"Oh, really, that's cool. Well, I just prefer to wing it," he retorted quickly. "Hmmmm," I thought, "Ok, that might work, but is it really the best strategy to parenting?"

As a mother, I never believed that I was an expert. From day one, I devoured parenting book after parenting book, such as Dare to Discipline by James Dobson or The Six Point Plan for Raising Healthy Happy Children by John Rosemund. I diligently followed Your Baby's First Year by The American Academy of Pediatrics for each one of my children. I was devastated to find out that the AAP did not publish a book for year two. I thought, "Wait, what do I feed this child? Help!"

Yes, winging it, was never my thing, and I believe as parents, we need guidance. Parents, alone, do not have all the answers.

As a first year teacher, it feels like I am a first time parent all over again. If I decide to take the "I'll just wing it" philosophy, I may be putting myself and my students in grave danger of being unprepared. Why? Because this philosophy makes the claim that I don't need to learn from anyone else. I'm good enough on my own.

Well, how do we as educators keep from subscribing to this "playing it cool" philosophy?

First, as teachers seeking excellence, we must realize that the education and training attained in college programs are just the beginning, but they are in no way the end. All teachers, young and old, should continually delve into various educational texts, always with the mission that their own education is not sealed in a vacuum. Furthermore, we cannot blame our teacher education programs for whether we succeed or don't succeed in the classroom. We must be accountable for our own growth, and be willing to accept ideas and criticisms from more experienced educators.

According to the NCATE: The Standard of Excellence in Teacher Preparation, "Studies on unprepared and underprepared teachers versus fully prepared teachers consistently show that the students of teachers who are prepared show stronger learning gains." It further states, "What makes a teacher effective? Research indicates that teacher preparation/knowledge of teaching and learning, subject matter knowledge, experience, and the combined set of qualifications measured by teacher licensure are all leading factors in teacher effectiveness." Therefore, teachers should be growing all the time, working to stay accountable for their own education, lesson preparedness, and experiences in the classroom.

Secondly, as teachers, we must continue to keep expectations high for ourselves and our students. Over the last few weeks, with the CRCT approaching, I have been pushing my students harder. Rigorous classwork and nightly homework are the norm. Do I hear whines and moans? You bet! Every single day, but my response to the complainers are, "Boys and girls, are we going to keep our expectations low?" I say this while gesturing my hand low to the floor, and continue by saying, "Or, are we going to keep our expectations high-all the way to the sky!" Sometimes I will have them gesture their hands to the floor, and we will say it together. Students need to internalize how their moans and groans effect the classroom environment and their overall attitude toward achievement. As their teacher, I must set high expectations for every student, and believe that each and every one is capable of complex work. The article, "The Stigma of Low Expectations" by Peter Dewitt states, "We underestimate students when they come to us with skills and experiences that differ from the ones we expected and we conclude they're incapable of complex work". As a teacher seeking excellence, I want all my students to know that I believe they are capable of high achievement.

In closing, as a first year teacher, I will continue to research and learn new teaching strategies and content, collaborate with experienced educators and seek their advice, keep the expectations high for myself and my students every day in the classroom. And understand, that the "Just Winging It" philosophy will never create a teacher of excellence.

Warning: Too Much "Winging It" May Lead to This....                                                 

Excellence Comes From Being.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Links to articles used in this blog:                                                                                                                                                                         

No comments: