Sunday, March 9, 2008


To be honest, I've been feeling a lot of doubt lately.

Doubt that I'll ever be the teacher I want to be, or at least good enough to not hate myself.

Doubt that I'll ever get this classroom management thing sorted out.

Doubt that I'm doing anything right, even when things seem to go well.

I have a lot of posts stored up in the old thinker (actually, over on my backpack) but I can't bring myself to write any of them because what's the point? I clearly don't know anything compared to everyone else out there.

I don't have a personality that makes classroom management easy to figure out. I'm non-confrontational and shy by nature. I have issues with the idea of myself as an authority figure. I have issues with the rules that make up high school that I still feel I have to enforce. Sometimes I can convince myself that I'm getting better at this, and maybe it'll take me longer than others I know to figure it out, but I'll get there anyway. Sometimes I think I'll never get "it" and maybe good teachers really are born and I should give up.

I don't know which one is right, and that's the problem. If I really am destined to be a terrible teacher forever because of my lack of classroom management skills, then I should get out sooner rather than later, right? (That's what I've been reading a lot this week.) Yet the people who've actually seen me teach don't seem to think so. Am I just too hard on myself? I don't know.

Honestly, I can't even begin to imagine what I would do with myself if I didn't teach.


CdnMathTeacher said...

I couldn't read this and not leave a comment. I think your last sentence says it all. I can't imagine life without teaching either (and I came late to the game). I'm still figuring it out day by day, minute by minute and trying not to sound like a shrew.
Our kids deserve the kind of teachers that we are - the ones who can't imagine anything else, who think we have the best jobs in the world, who aren't just doing this until something better comes along or because something better didn't work out. I highly doubt you are *invisible* and you are making a difference to someone, somewhere, some how.

Joel said...

Exactly what cdnmathteacher said! As long as you acknowledge that classroom management is the problem, you can spend this next summer learning and learning and learning.

You're in the very same place I was at the very same point in my career. Spend the remainder of this year talking with other teachers, asking questions all the time. Contact me on AIM at soyouwanttoteach and ask me tons of questions.

Go to the teachers the kids at your school don't like because they're mean. Find out how they keep the kids quiet.

Go to the teachers the kids love because they're nice. Find out how they keep the kids quiet.

Split the difference.

Avoid talking with thos teachers the kids don't like because they yell at them. That's the wrong kind of mean.

Miss Profe said...

Peneli, obviously nobody can tell you what to do. That being said, my being as a teacher is a work in progress that has taken thus far 15 years to create. It's only been the last five years that I actually have come to like and trust the teacher I am now. Five years from now, that will evolve and change into something else. I think what had happened to me were a series of events - some self-imposed, others imposed by others, but each allowed me to grow in ways I might not have.

Set some achievable goals, have an action plan, and be patient. You'll get there.:)

Set some goals, have a plan, and be patient.:

Penelope said...

Thanks for the support. :)

Joel, you will be hearing from me on the old AIM box, I promise.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you. I've never seen you teach. At the same time, when I read this post (and the past few) I can't help but see myself in my first year of teaching.

Adso of Melk said...

Hey, if this helps, one of the biggest helps was the Harry Wong book on classroom management. The best advice I ever got was that it begins on the first day -- once you can basically get them doing your routine, that sets the stage for the entire year.

You'll get it. I swear.


1. Never reprimand in public. Call them out into the hall and have the one-on-one.

2. Whisper a reprimand. That is, if I see Student X doodling instead of taking notes, I'll circulate, get behind Student X, and whisper, "Hey, have any questions?"

3. Reprimand in the form of being helpful (see above).

4. Never fight in front of the kids, same as you do when you're a parent.

space said...

I couldn't leave this alone.
All teachers no matter how long they've been at it feel invisible sometimes. Doubt is part of the job. After 25 years of this I still end many days thinking exactly what you were.
I found your blog because I was searching for a new idea. Your enthusiasm for your Scramble for Africa game captured my attention. (care to share?)
Anyway, as far as classroom management goes... it's just like parenting - somedays you get it right and somedays you don't. Harry Wong's book is great, but you have to find your own style. Hang in there! The greatest thing about teaching is everyday can be a new slate. Kids are very forgiving and even appreciate your realness when you tell them, "I tried that, didn't work. Let's do something else." Try something then try something new. Nothing works all the time and nothing works forever. Seek out advice but make it your own world. Your last sentence definitely shows your heart. You are where you're called to be. I will be reading more of your blogs. I know you young pups can still teach us old dogs!

Penelope said...

Oh, I definitely started off believing most of those! It's frustrating to realize how much work and teaching you actually have to put into your RULES.

Bolos said...

Dear Penelope,

Your reflection reminds me so much of my first years as a teacher. I remember often sitting with a group of very experienced instructors who luckily saw me as a peer.

One woman in particular said something to the effect of, "Well, this is my 10th year teaching and I'm looking for something new. I basically haven't had any problems with classroom management for years, and I need a different challenge."

I was flabbergasted at the time because I knew she wasn't boasting at all. Was it possible to not have classroom management problems?? But it goes to show you that everyone (regardless of experience) has their own challenges in education.

I've always believed that teaching is the process of discovering yourself; becoming comfortable with who you are, and not trying to emulate a hero or some impossible ideal. Your personality will work as long as you accept it for what it is.

This is now my 14th year teaching and after a decade, I ended up switching schools for my new challenge. Like those first years, it was tough, but I can tell you that you will survive. And with your obvious passion, you will also thrive!