So I gave in and read my evaluations, well skimmed them… YIKES!! I went from being thought of as one of the better teachers in the school to one of the worst. There were a couple of things that really bothered me. One was that I had such a great disconnect with the kids. By wanting them to struggle with the problems and learn through this struggle, I think I missed the signs of when they begin to give up and resent me. I didn’t know that so many of my kids felt so poorly about me. I lost their respect, and it really showed. The other thing was that I wasn’t able to see any of this. Usually I can read people well, and am very sensitive to the kids. I really thought that I was doing a good job. I really thought that they were buying into the method, and that generally, I was well liked. But, no. Not in honors, not in regular. How was I not able to see this? Honestly, I believed so much in the method that I felt that I was doing great, no matter what my kids, or their parents, said. I really felt like God had lead me to this way of teaching, and that I was doing okay with it. Not great, but better than good. I feel kind of silly and embarrassed. I feel like I’m a beginning teacher again, and I lost all that I learned from 10 years of teaching. I feel like I was perhaps a better teacher 5 years ago than I am now, even though I think about teaching, what I’m teaching, and how to teach it constantly. I feel like it is always a constant struggle and I am currently loosing.
I talked over my evaluations with my husband. I really respect what he has to say. He is a scientist, and is intimately familiar with being in a science class where the teacher sucked and he had to struggle through the material on his own. We have also been in a classes where it felt so easy to learn even very difficult concepts. I did have to struggle through the problem sets at times, but it was more of a good challenge rather than a chore. I know I got a lot out of those classes, and retiaind the knowledge/concepts too. What inspired me? What were those teachers like? I need to tap into that more.
I have to listen to what my students are saying.
My first reaction to reading the evaluations was that they didn’t get it. And they didn’t. They didn’t get that they have to struggle with the material to really learn it. They didn’t get that I want them to apply the knowledge that they gained from class to many other situations. They didn’t get that I want to give them a safe place to fail, so in the end they can succeed. They didn’t get that I answered questions with questions so that they would be forced to really think about what they were doing. I failed them at many levels, and I am so very sad about this. Discussing this with my husband, I found myself saying things like, “They gave up, they are lazy and wanted to just memorize.” I was adamant that I was not going to let that happen. Gerbs, my husband, reminded me that part of learning is memorizing. That he had to do this as a first step, then with that security blanket (my words, not his) he was able to venture out to more complex and higher thought processes. Looking back, I know i have to listen to my kids. They are screaming, begging, for a change and I have to listen to them and find out why, what went wrong.
As of now, I want to do a very interactive class next year, just not pure modeling. This may change and I may be singing a different tune come August, but it turns out that I really, really, really suck at teaching this way, and my students suffered for it. I HATE that I failed them. I fell that I failed my students and two of the people who I look up to very much and see as my mentors: Kelly O’Shea and John Burk. For this I am very sorry. I wish I could do it all again, but much, much better.
Well, I got to get back to grading, I have to finish the research papers the kids wrote. I’ll write up a post soon about this, but we did a fantastic unit on global warming at the end of the semester in physics. This was a keeper, but the grading of 10 page papers in lieu of a final sucks for me. Only 31 more to go.