Do Teachers Want to Change Anything?

I cannot remember who in this group is on flteach and who is not; but an issue came up about parents described as helicopter/hovering parents who harrass teachers. This issue comes up on the List and others over and over.
>What I tried to point out – and here Brian may help b/c he worked side by side with me for many years – was that I did not have these problems. Fine. That was attributed to special circumstances by some people on flteach and I accepted that I had good principals and reasonable parents.
>But what I added this time was that OTHER TEACHERS in my school DID have these problems – same kids, same parents. The question I was raising was why. What was I doing different from the other teachers.
>Before any discussion I got a huge complaint off-List from a person I argue with a lot, saying I was condescending. This person, along with many others, tends to see teacher competence in terms of subject-matter knowledge and blames kids, admins, and parents for problems. My argument comes from……. one example: walking in on a teacher talking to a parent on the phone and being appalled at how the teacher is leaving himself open, giving the parent so many entry points to question what the teacher is doing, when something as simple as inviting the parent to come in to talk with the teacher gets back, “I’m too busy but thanks anyway. Bye.” Problem solved.
>But it seems to me that the teachers on this List do not want to think in terms of changing their own behavior. It seems like they see any such move on their part as an admission that it’s ALL their fault.
>Before I blog on this – and it forms a big part of my relation of my recent experience in the 5 weeks teaching a Sp/Fr class – I wanted to get feedback from you guys – the reasonable bunch, as to how I might say these things, or if I should say them at all.
>Thank you, darlings

Now I’ll add an exchange from May of 2008. I’ve deleted some things that might identify the person and her post is included after my response to it which follows immediately:
You have really gave a nice, detailed layout of what went right and what went wrong, incl. some self-analysis and self-reflection.

The thing that jumps out at me is “I had the most miserable supervisor for my student teaching that you could imagine”. You should end the description there and go on and teach, forgetting about her. Now I only had one cooperating teacher and he spent the semester on the couch in the office while I taught. As the years wore on I saw prospective teachers have to do 3 very involved weeks long observations plus an internship and student teaching and lord knows what else. It’s crazy.

But you survived it. You had some good experiences, some rotten. Par for the course. From what you’ve said of your personality, my guess is that you internalize criticism even while you recognize intellectually that you should just use it and move on.

I think it’s good that you tried to do what this person told you…….. up to a point. It’s like a particularly tough work-out: as long as you don’t get hurt, it just adds to your toughness. Focus on those other ’cooperating teachers’ and on what you got out of the experiences. It bothers me that you might think of taking more course work; how could that possibly help you? It’s like telling a student to analyze the 3rd conjugation some more; he needs to speak more L2 or read it or something. All classes do is get you thinking more about what you do and what you need to do is do it.

That group stuff is very hard to work out and takes teachers years of experience to get it to go smoothly. You just keep teaching and trying the group stuff where you think it will help and will work. You’ll work the kinks out of it. It was too much, IMHO, to ask a new teacher to set all that up.

Some of my best friends are nuns but they were also excellent teachers. I valued their teaching more than their nunning. But that’s old impious me.

Let me confide in you that I was the cooperating teacher for a person who, I am sure, curses me to this day. She couldn’t do anything right, it seemed to her. She had a very idealized picture of what a teacher should be like and how students should be and she ran into reality. So not all student-teacher/coop teacher relationships work well. This supervisor couldn’t link up to you. Others did.

Your life trajectory has given you a lot to offer other people. The idea that you might shortchange someone can keep you from offering that. I used to volunteer for counseling assignments for bilingual counselors when I was still talking
pidgin Spanish. I just bulled my way in. The same with group counseling, then the same with teaching. I just moved in and did it.

It’s not that I didn’t make mistakes or spend a sleepless night worrying about something stupid I’d done, but I was just so excited about what I was doing that I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Heck, you can always apologize. And if you’re really busy, people usually forget all about your blunders.

Now I’ll get myself in real trouble. Back in the 70s, when I was a counselor, a lot of middle-aged women were returning to college and careers after divorce or as widows. I got a job as an evening college at a community college and the head counselor had me sit in on an interview with one such woman. In that one short session, I learned so much as he walked her through what she knew how to do as a former teacher. (I was still a long ways from becoming a teacher at that point; not for another 10 years would I become a teacher). She seemed to perk up a little more with each point he made.

You are becoming a teacher. You have a life-time of experiences and you have the maturity and patience and human understanding that a lot of teachers lack. The nuts and bolts that Ms. Supervisor focused on are just there to learn. That’s fun. Look forward to it. I certainly welcome you to the profession – take my place, I’m retired.
Thanks for your confidence in me.
Pat Barrett

Hi ~
I’ve been a member on the flteach listserv for maybe a year or so. I’ve contributed a couple of times to several posts, but have found myself becoming ultra-sensitive to certain responses and have chosen instead to “just listen” (read).

I’m hoping to keep this short, and hopefully not too boring and I don’t want to pressure a response from you in any way….but here’s my angst and I’m hoping you can sort of set me on a semi straight path.. I decided to go back to school (I never finished my undergrad degree) and just finished now in May. I’m somewhat of a driven person (this is both good and bad) and managed a 3.96 GPA. I majored in Spanish (my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico, I was born and raised in NYC). I student taught at a Middle School this past semester for 6 weeks and at a High School for 6 weeks. I loved both, but prefer the High School – I guess I can relate to the students pretty well as I have twins in the 11th grade (boy and girl). ….I know, I know, when am I getting to my point…..Here goes..

I had the most miserable supervisor for my student teaching that you could imagine. I pride myself on being as diplomatic as possible, but this woman was downright condescending. I have read, even in your most recent post response to “Tell me how to teach” that one must know how to handle criticism. I accept that, and I bit my tongue on so many occasions. This supervisor taught for 33 years (in the same school district), but it seemed that the only correct way to teach was “her way”. I tried to be creative with my lessons although I am just starting out, of course I need to “practice” ad infinitum (?) The only positive thing that she consistently said about me were two things: It’s apparent that the students really like you and that you really like them and it was good that I always embed culture into my lessons. (I think that language and culture are intrinsically bound and wouldn’t know how not to embed it). Anyway, she was downright impatient if I didn’t quite “get” how to have the students do “group work” (I know that if I do this I need to figure out a task for each of the group members otherwise they’re just going to chat about nothing – and I just couldn’t figure it out) or if I didn’t call on each and every student (her words “each student should be called on at least 5 times during the period”) or if she thought I wasn’t getting the “guided practice” or the motivation….and a lot more. She said she didn’t think I’d “progressed”. Now I don’t know if they were kidding with me or not, but my cooperating teachers thought I was doing a great job….both have been teaching 8 years and 15 years respectively. Don’t get me wrong, they gave me pointers all the time and I adjusted.

Here’s my dilemma….do I go back and retake Methods and Curriculum and Assessment because I clearly did not progress or is this teaching “thing” something where I can learn and progress as I go along? I don’t think I’m dense, although I do know that I need someone to show me concretely what I am to do when I don’t do “it” right, and my supervisor kept telling me that if she told me what to do that would be like cheating – I needed to show her and then she would assess me. I am totally depressed and second guessing myself…
I so want to teach, but I don’t want to shortchange anyone. I used to feel prepared, but now I’m not sure. One of her biggest “beefs” was that I use her “lesson plan format” – I did, however, it was never to her specifications. She’d tell me she couldn’t follow it. She’d say, “I followed your lesson, but not your lesson plan”….then she’d critique all that was wrong with the “lesson” based on the “lesson plan”. I told her once that I thought that the lesson plan was for me, to sort of guide me with what I was going to do and what my objective was. I said, I know she has to read it, and that it has to be reader friendly, but that it ultimately needs to make sense to me (I think) and that if the students are assessed and found doing “well” then “it” must be working. BTW, I was at 2 overachieving schools and students did brilliantly, consistently….

Maybe I should just become a nun….(yeah this is out of left field, and no I’m not putting down this vocation – I’m just wondering if it might be a viable option for me….) I didn’t used to take criticism so poorly, but I have become somewhat sensitive due to this supervisor. (Here’s a quick example of what she told a friend of mine: My friend had just finished her lesson, and was pleased that all went rather well – she said it was the best lesson she’d had and she was thrilled. The supervisor walked out with her and said,”Let me see how I can wipe that smile off your face.”…….

If all you do is read this, thank you. If you respond, better yet. Thank you for letting

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