I substitute taught for a few years before I began teaching. It was probably one of the best ed classes I ever had.
One year, I took a long term sub position for an elementary teacher in our district who was actually quite well respected (at least I thought so). She was having a surgical procedure, so I had time to meet with her before she took her leave.
The day we met, she proudly showed me a file box on her desk.
Inside it were 180 notecards.
One for every day of the school year.
Her lesson plans.
They never changed.
She was my Carl. She lived in her little classroom and never changed a thing. She was too afraid to fly...although I don't understand why, she had some great ideas.
As a sub, I was thrilled. Here was every thing I needed to teach in this classroom for six weeks. No calls to the teacher. No having to fake it. No work involved.
But it didn't take me long to start thinking about that little box on her desk. She had made it quite clear that I needed to make sure to put the days card in the back of the file box each day. I shouldn't write on them. I mustn't lose them.
She used them every year...and was proud of it.
Years later, when I took my first job teaching 7th grade English in the district, there were no plans, no ideas, no curriculum for me to follow. I asked the head of the department what I needed to teach. He told me, "Anything you want."
I longed for that little file box on the desk.
So I started. I made things up. I tried and failed. I tried and succeeded.
And I kept all my lesson plans in a notebook (not a file box, mind you). But I did things a bit differently--- I wrote all over my plans. The notes were reflections on how the lesson went. What worked well, what needed to be canned. I also wrote ideas for the next year all over the place.
Then I started using binders for each unit. And in the binder were always ideas for improving, new things to try. I seemed to instinctively know that I couldn't teach each new class the way I taught the old one. Heck, I couldn't teach each kid in one class the same way I taught his classmates. They were all so different!
No two years were ever the same.
And then, after seven years, I was a little bored. Our district was studying literacy and how to teach it. It excited me, so I switched over and began to teach 7th grade reading (English and Reading are two separate classes in our middle school).
Same thing. Binders full of units and ideas. No year was the same as the last.
And after seven years, I was bored again.
So I went to the high school. And instead of teaching one class, I teach four. And that could change every semester. I love it.
But, as a seasoned teacher, I understand the file box on the desk. It certainly makes your life easier. You don't have to fly into the unknown. Every day is predictable. Every day in the same.
Change is good for a teacher.
Trying new things is good for a teacher.
Failure is good for a teacher.
Learning is good for a teacher.
So each day, I remind myself to try something new, struggle with a new idea, and try not to be afraid to fail.....
Ugh. Cheesy. I know. But I really do try to remind myself of this.
Because each year,
even though it might be your 25th year
in this class,
it's your students's first...