TJ’s Talk

Chat about teaching, teacher education, business education and lots of other stuff.

Success? Failure? November 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjordan @ 12:55 am

Often, at the end of the day I come home and think about whether my day was a success or a failure. Whether I am a success or a failure as a teacher and whether my students succeeded or failed today. The people that know me best would tell me that I am being to hard on myself…that I am doing a noble thing by teaching in Northern Saskatchewan…that I am a success and am doing a great job. While I am thankful that I have a great support network, I have some doubts about this. Do I think I have the potential to be a great teacher? Absolutely. Am I right now? No.

It is not enough for me to just be here. I didn’t become a teacher to just be at a school…I became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of my students. My students deserve the best teacher I can be, regardless of where I am teaching. Being in Northern Saskatchewan does not mean that I can be a subpar teacher…if anything it means I have to be a better teacher so that I can reach students that speak a different language, that are a different race, that have a different cultural background, and that have a very adversarial attitude towards school and the people in a school.

Many teachers leave their posting with this school after a short period of time, staying to a second year is a rarety. Maybe it has something to do with the joy, or lack thereof, that Dean Shareski talks about in his blog post, Robbing Students and Teachers of Joy…I am not sure. What I do know is that I want my students to feel joy when they walk into my classroom and I want to feel joy when I walk into my classroom. I want to be part of the solution, I want to make changes that will give my students a better education and ultimately a better life.

I have questions though, how do I make this happen? How can I make changes? What types of changes will exact the most impact? How do you being joy back into a class that have not experienced much success in school and a class where most of the students dislike school? I know there will be no concrete answer and I am searching for what will work for me. Hopefully, I can find the beginnings of an answer before I lose my students or lose the teacher that I want to be.

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One Response to “Success? Failure?”

  1. Alan Stange Says:

    My answer would be anathema to many these days. Some things may not be negotiable, but if these young people are at risk, then the curriculum might not be your first priority. Ask them what they would need to make it a good day at school. Perhaps you can build from there.

    It is hard to speak to generalities I am afraid. I have heard of northern schools that incorporated out door education into their program to address school relevance (Moose hunting :p ). I might encourage you to develop personal or shared projects they can work toward. Are you tapped into the northern teacher network? who is doing something successful?

    I have no real experience with your situation. I have recently worked in a community school down here in Moose Jaw. Literacy was low. Inevitably what worked was hands on collaborative activities. Run experiments, games and challenges. I hope someone from the First Nations community picks up on your blog and offers some relevant suggestions.

    One thing I am adamant about. I’m sure someone else will scold me for saying it, but establishing a happy learning environment and initiating real learning is more important than following the curriculum. I gather you work with either middle years or high school so remember this too, if they don’t want to be there, you might not be able to reach them.


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