I’m a planner. I like having an agenda; I like knowing what my day will look like; I like being prepared. Being spontaneous definitely takes me out of my comfort zone. I am an introvert, there is no question about it. I am the opposite of a procrastinator and like working a little too far ahead. I am a perfectionist to a fault, and this is something I am working on. I am addicted to learning, I’m constantly reading, and I love taking things apart and putting them together without reading instructions.
Teaching fits my personality really well. It pushes me in ways that I need to be pushed, while keeping me well within my comfort zone in other ways. I always walk into the classroom with an agenda, and plan things out weeks in advance. However, the classroom requires enormous flexibility. Sticking to strict lessons everyday would be a disaster waiting to happen. I strive for an organic flow in my classroom; it’s all about give and take, being in tune with student needs, but at the same time knowing what needs to be accomplished in the allotted block or week. The students tell me to chill sometimes, and I tell them to straighten up at others. There’s this cool trust and meaningful relationship that can be built between teacher and student. And then, there’s the challenge of keeping up with teenagers on a daily basis, learning about their constantly changing interests and obsessions, comforting them on some days and laying down the line on others, listening unconditionally, and the list goes on… I truly love being a teacher.
Flipping my classes has worked really well for my personality. I can take my need for structure and offload most of that to homework, allowing the classroom to feel free flowing. In class time is based on student needs (whether it be individual needs or things that we need to break down as a class), and this is not always something that can be anticipated ahead of time. As teachers, we know that the classroom changes very much from year to year (actually, I should say block to block!), based on the set of students that you have. Students get to interact with my rigid, structured self outside of the classroom, and get a much more compassionate, flexible teacher face-to-face.
To me, teaching is all about listening to the students and observing their needs. This is how I feel I gain their trust and respect. And so even though I love planning in advance, I know that some of my plans will be thrown out the window or need to be tweaked along the way. In fact, when first making my flipclass videos, I refused to make too large a batch over the summer. Why? Because there is so much to learn from the students and so much insight they can provide. In making my Algebra 2 videos, I laid out the structure for my year over the summer and outlined all PPT lessons for the year. This was my scope and sequence planning. I then recorded about 3 weeks of content over the summer. In that first month of school, I observed how students were watching the videos, what needed to be changed, what things I should keep, and adjusted the next batch of videos accordingly. About 2-3 months in, I did a survey of student satisfaction and further adjusted. And now, even though I’m reusing videos that I created in the past, I re-edit the videos from year to year. Nothing should remain static in teaching… And that constant opportunity for growth, innovation, and learning new things is one of the things I love most about my job as a teacher and why it fits my personality so well. The kids teach so much, and ultimately they are what I love the absolute most about my job.
… I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, exactly. Just a bit of rambling that I wanted to put on paper!