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Lesson

Finally!

Tomorrow is my last day of an adventure that you would call “trying to teach an SAT class for the first time ever”. Boy, am I glad. I never fully appreciated the work and effort that goes into trying to teach a group of teenagers something that they really don’t want to know. May God bless all teachers many times over. Coming away from this experience, I realize why I never pursued education as a career on a grand scale. Teaching part-time on a consistent basis would burn me out more than my 50-60 hour/week day job ever will. I have definitely gotten the distinct sense that I need to reconsider any statement that I can teach.

Do not get me wrong now…

I liked the kids. They may not have liked me, but I definitely liked them. I may not have been all that helpful to them, but I certainly liked them. And I like teaching too. I just cannot teach a group of kids, even if I do like them. I have tutored for the past three years, but one-on-one tutoring is distinctly different from trying to teach seventeen kids who are developmentally more focused on their social lives than they are on the short girl with the big hair up front trying to plod her way through her lesson plan. And as for that short girl with the big hair, can I just mention how easily distracted she can get with multiple stimuli? I cannot finish a sentence much less teach a lesson when I am around more than one conversation. And we had plenty of those going on in various parts of the room.

In my defense

I am not saying I did not teach my students well. I do not know if I did. My ability to gauge their progress was limited by a number of things. Most of these things being homework, or the lack thereof. After the fourth or fifth class in which only two or three students did *some* of the homework, I realized I would have a difficult time being helpful. I mean, how does one get a student who is likely already overworked and involved in a number of activities outside of SAT tutoring to buy into doing a few hours of additional homework every week? Additionally, since my main focus has always been teaching my students how to prioritize their needs and taking responsibility for their own performance, it is hard to feel like I was actually teaching the principal lesson in my syllabus.

Did I happen to mention that I had to proctor a test after school hours in which the test materials were locked away in the guidance counselor’s office? Did I also happen to mention the fact that there was only one answer sheet for a total of 33 students? Even if I had taught my kids well, that experience in and of itself was enough for me to feel quite finished with the whole thing.

Time to grab for my center

My aunt once told me a story of when she had a run-in with a very poor teacher. My aunt’s demands flustered the teacher so much, she tried to have administrators kick my aunt out ofthe class. Ultimately in the ensuing confrontation, my aunt advised the flustered educator to “hold [her] center as the teacher”. I have felt as though I’ve been trying to grab onto that center of which she spoke, but I have yet to find it much less hold it as a teacher. Trying to teach a class has simply left me with the vague sensation of trying to swim to the surface when I’m oriented towards the seabed. Counseling? I can do that relatively well. Tutoring? I can do that too, because it comes back down to the individual’s needs and my ability to respond to them with my full attention. Teaching seventeen kids at once? You’re not likely to find me doing that again any time soon.

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