Day 5: What are your strengths? Which are you most grateful for?
I’m sure most teachers could list this one, but I’m flexible. I have to be, because, to be honest, great lesson planning is not one of my strengths (yet! I’m working on it!). So sometimes I find myself with extra time at the end of a lesson. I hate wasting that time and just letting the kids chat. We don’t really do traditional homework, so they never have something that they can get started on. So, over the course of this year so far, I’ve developed a bit of a repertoire of end-of-class activities. Some of them are only good for my 1s or my 3s and 4s, some are good for all levels, some are unit-specific. But I’m getting good at filling extra time. And what to do when one section of a class is only 20 minutes long because of an assembly but the other section is full length? No problem! It’s a language class, so there’s always something I can do to stretch and fill extra time.
I’m techy. Pretty techy, anyway. And, the further I get into my teaching career, the more I realize that that is really a strength. I’m sure that’s true in just about any field, but it’s definitely true in my school. We’re in the middle of a big technology push, I’m sure other districts are as well, and I am grateful every day that I’m familiar with iOS devices and PCs and projectors and netbooks and whatever else you might want to throw at me. I’m not limited by what I know how to use, only by what’s available to me. And having iPads in my room this year has really opened the door to the world. Mostly because the tech-savvy teacher knows how to use them, what apps are helpful and fun, and how to help the kids learn the ropes. For all that administration harps on today’s students being super techy- they’re not. If it’s not Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Vine, they’re lost. I’m pretty sure that if I weren’t as techy as I am, my poor students would be lost. So while they’re definitely learning Spanish in my classroom, I can also guarantee you that they’re learning “21st Century Skills” and how to interact with technology.
The last one is the one I’m most thankful for, and I think that both of the above strengths come from this one. I’m a problem-solver. I have probably heard that phrase a thousand times in my life, but until I graduated from college, I didn’t know what it meant. Honestly. Until I started teaching students (and interacting with colleagues) who ask (what seem to me to be) the most obvious, simple questions, I never realized what a natural ability I have for figuring things out. If I don’t know the answer to something, I can usually either A)fake it ’til I make it or B)find the answer pretty quickly and apply it to the situation at hand.
Since I started teaching, I’ve realized that there are two broad groups of people: People who find the information they need (in the instructions on the test, on the internet, from their notes, simple logic, or by whatever means necessary), and people who need to be told. Every. Single. Detail. Okay, maybe it’s not that black and white, but sometimes I feel like it is. It has taken me a long time to figure out how to teach effectively to those kids who just aren’t figure-it-outers. And, more importantly, I want my students to learn some of that skill before they leave my room, so I’m always trying to find new activities to help build that up in them. I figure, if they can learn to be problem solvers, even just a little, just to carefully read the instructions before they ask what they’re supposed to do, they’ll be better off in other classes, in college, and they’ll definitely be better employees.