Saturday, June 12, 2010

Walking on Thin Ice

It's funny how self-centered humans are as adolescents. How we can go through 3 or 4 or 5 years of high school and never really understand what our teachers, parents, principals, guardians and what have you are going through. How easy an adolescent finds it to walk through their day-to-day life and believe that a teacher has it out for them or doesn't believe them or whatever experience you can come up with. And I say this with absolutely no authority as a teacher, but with the authority of having been a teenager not all that long ago.

I was, what most, would call a good student. I did my homework, went to my symphony rehearsals, did well on tests and assignments and went off to accomplish things I had dreamed of for a long time (mind you, I was late for everything). Granted, I was (and still am) a rare case. I love(d) school - friends, teachers, sports, name it - and I knew the whole time that I wanted to teach high school. But I can still look back and know that I took for granted what I had, and failed to recognize a lot of what my teachers, etc were doing for me.

Over the past couple of months I have had so many things run through my mind, so many things I wanted to discuss with myself, with colleagues, with friends...things I wanted to ramble on about on my blog...things I never got around to mentioning to anyone. I do not recall ever wanting to talk about teenagers and their ability to believe outright that one of their teachers wasn't trying to do what is best for them, but maybe that is what it has all boiled down to...I think I worry about this a lot.

I feel like I am often walking on thin ice. Like everything I do changes my students' perception of me. Like I need to be superwoman for them everyday. But I also feel like my students need to see me fail, to make mistakes, to pick myself up again and forge through the day. I have started to realize that, by seeing my parents and family as successful people, by being in the company of friends who were driven and amazing, I have spent very little of my life learning how to fail. Maybe this is something that many of the students at my school (and elsewhere) can see in their teachers. Maybe they can tell that few of us had to truly struggle through a high school course (especially not in a subject we teach). Maybe, that makes us...some kind of enemy...

I have seriously digressed from where I thought I was going to go with this. In the end, what I am trying to understand is how to help those kids who are at risk. Whether at risk, in this case, means of failing a course or dropping out of school. How can I diversify myself enough, that the ones who really need me, can find a way in?

Funny thing is, when I was changing the layout of this blog today...trying to find a background picture...I was thinking about how I want to teach kids to see the bigger picture. I want them to see school as a tool to shape them and change who they will become. I want them to stop analyzing the little things in my math class and start truly learning how to think from themselves. How to problem solve and become independent people. I want learn how to learn about themselves - to become those people and love who they are. Maybe the way to do this, is to reach them all...maybe that's why this entry turned into what it is now.


  1. Heather - your insight as a young teacher amazes me! You are remarkable in your thoughts and efforts to help your students. it took me a long time to realize what you expressed so well. Good for you.

  2. Thanks Linda. I think that, if we let it, this profession will provide us with insights for the rest of our careers.