And I am going back…

And we shall see how this goes…I am excited.

As I have been pondering this whole situation, it occurs to me that there are about as many ways to run a class as there are classes to be run…wait, I guess that is the truth, there are as many different ways to run a class as there are class runners, er,  teachers, that is.

I guess I have been wrestling with the notion of who I am as a teacher, and who I want to be. Really, I guess the impetus for this question asking has been me looking into the future and wondering where I will fit in, and how I want to be remembered. Its not a “will they dedicate the year book to me” kind of wonder, or a “maybe I’ll have a building named after me” kind of thought, but just really asking the question, “how will I be remembered?” and “what did I do to prepare students for the future?”.

A couple of days ago, I was talking to a colleague of mine because I had this bad taste in my mouth from an interaction with a student…it wasn’t a bad interaction, but it just left me feeling, well, weird. I don’t really remember what was said, and I don’t remember how it ended, but I have the strongest of feelings burned into my brain from that conversation.

I remember feeling empty.

I still do.

This is not a self-serving “its all about me” moment, but I felt mostly useless after this conversation.

The student called me a vending machine.

No, not really, but they might as well have. The vending machine they described was not one of those awesome vending machines with too many good choices – no, this was one of those run down ones with the Big Red gum and York peppermint patties in it (I hate mint and chocolate, except in ice cream…I digress)

They literally stopped in the middle of asking me a question about their homework and said, “Never mind, I’ll just ask my tutor”. So I pressed them a bit, and found out that they love their tutor, their tutor helps them, their tutor is there for them, their tutor listens to them, they help them understand what I am saying in class, they decode the hieroglyphics that I give them and label “homework”. I was shocked, the student walked away to go to tutoring and I sat in my chair, flabbergasted.

In my students eyes, I am a vending machine of information and assignments…for all other inquiries, help or compassion, see tutor in room 6.

I got jealous. I want to see the look of satisfaction on their faces when they “get it”. I want the “AHA!” moments. I want my collaborative work environment back.

Not that it has been all bad. I have had successes with students and have had times to tutor kids. I have had times when there have been kids in my room nonstop for hours on end. Usually, only on test days – VERY stressful test days. To the point that I wanted to lock my door and cover the window.

So why do I want more of this? The difference is simple – test days = stress time. Stress time = I need something from you. Mr. Seris = vending machine once again.

I want a day in and day out cultivation of trust and encouragement that helps students learn to persevere, work hard and collaborate. I want more time to help students learn to learn. Learn to problem solve. I want to trade some of the stress for some opportunities to teach students to manage time and solve hard problems.

Right now, from where I sit, my students’ mindset is thus:  Teachers = Villains, piling on homework and wielding a red saber of oppression on assessment days., Tutor = Advocate, a knight in shining armor to help them navigate the difficulties of the struggle that is school. I want my kids to know that I am on their side and I am working for them, not against them in their daily struggle to manage their lives and balance their work.

I want to help kids in a way that I know how. This may just be my way.

We should be on their side, and there should be no confusion about that.

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