Saturday, August 6, 2011

How do you manage?

This year I became a permanent full-time art teacher after having taught at my current school for 2 years as a part time Visual Arts teacher and learning support assistant. I came to the school straight from university and I thank my lucky stars every day for the role I have now, as I know how difficult it is to find full time positions in schools as a Visual Arts teacher.

In the last 6 months I felt somewhat confused as to whether I can still call myself a 'new teacher'. The label of 'new teacher' has, I feel, helped me reflect on my mistakes in a more positive manner as I know I have much to learn, and I am on a steep learning curve. I found myself thinking that if I am no longer a new teacher than surely I should know better, be better, manage better, teach better...SURELY I SHOULD BE CONTROLLING THOSE YEAR 10s BETTER BY NOW!!! (insert hair tearing here).

All this reflection, and discussion with peers and my PLN (Personal Learning Network) brought me to the conclusion that it does not matter how long one has been teaching - those kids will sometimes raise their troublesome heads. And regardless of whether or not I am green around the ears, I hope I will always be in a state of reflection, always eager to learn more and always eager to improve my practice.

After teaching those kids for 2 years now, I am slowly 'getting there' (wherever 'there' is). I am learning what works for me by asking others, reading, searching the net, etc. I love how Phil Beadle says that however off the air these kids are, and no matter what happens in my classroom, it's a good thing to keep smiling. And if it gets worse, keep smiling. This has worked for me.

On Friday afternoon when I reverted back to a little yelling and lecturing, it was further reinforced that kids respond so much better when I smile. I'm 5 foot 3" - it's pretty clear yelling and lecturing does not work for me. Just to let you know, dear reader, I tell you I reverted to a tactic that I know doesn't work because I acknowledge I still continue to make mistakes - I just hope that from these mistakes comes growth and change. I'm a slow learner but I know I am a good teacher who is on a steep learning curve and is willing to keep growing.

My students know how much I love to learn. They know I am always trying new things. They know I make mistakes. I think that is ok. They seem to have been really into art lately.

This weekend I pulled out my tattered copy of "Cracking the Hard Class" by Bill Rogers, purchased recently from Amazon. I find some really interesting tips I can apply to my own classes. (I wish I knew what other 'desperately seeking better teaching methods newbies' or 'always looking to improve' old timers have used this copy previously - I bet there are some stories to tell!). I'm ready to try some new things tomorrow and to keep using what is working well.

So, my message here? Keep trying, keep reading, keep asking, stay willing to try new things, try not to think that you 'should know better', accept that some things will not work and it is ok to make mistakes. I know I am going to keep trying. Oh, and smile.

I would love to hear from anyone out there about what your experiences with classroom management are.

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