In reading Mr. McClung’s blog post, What I’ve Learned This Year, it solidifies everything that Dr. Strange has been trying to teach us. Mr. McClung is a fine example of what happens every year in a classroom. Here is a man that has just completed his first year as a teacher, and he has learned so much. For him to be able to self-evaluate himself like that is something that we all need to take note of. The lessons he teaches here are invaluable.
He states that he felt that he was too self-absorbed with his performance, that he lost sight of the main goal – teaching his students and connecting with them. While I agree that teachers need to be evaluated, it can also serve as a distraction for the teacher. They are too concerned at how they will be evaluated by their superiors. He also says, “A common theme that I have seen in a lot of teachers is the fact that they do not make their lessons student centered.” I have witnessed this first hand. I have seen teachers that are trying to show off their technological skills or knowledge of the content that they aren’t even aware that their students are spaced out in their desks. We must not lose sight of our goal, which is to make sure that our students are getting everything they can out of our lesson. If we see that it is not working, we must be prepared for change. The old saying, “Expect the unexpected comes to mind.” He was correct in saying that the lesson we teach and the lesson we planned is always different. Things happen, and we shouldn’t get rattled by it. Roll with the punches. If our students sense our panic when a lesson is not going right, then we will surely lose them in that moment
Mr. McClung also emphasizes the importance of communication. Displaying good communication skills is not only important with our students, but also with our fellow faculty members. We should be willing to solve any problems that we may have so that our time and effort will be effective. We do not want workplace drama to distract us from our job. He also advises us that, although we should have high expectations of our students, we should also be reasonable and not expect too much out of them and set them up for failure. We must remember that we are dealing with children. I have to watch myself with this with my own children. My 9 year old son taught me a valuable lesson last year about how fragile children are. Whenever he didn’t do so well with his schoolwork, he would say, “I’m dumb, and I don’t know anything.” I immediately told him, “No, you don’t know everything. That is why you have to go to school, to learn.” This is something that I need to remember with my future students. We as teachers are not in the business of breaking kids’ spirits. As Mr. McClung puts it, “Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again.”
Another lesson that Mr. McClung urges us to learn is that we should always listen to our students. This is something that I struggle with personally. I tend to tune things out. It’s a sort of a survival mechanism that I have acquired as a mother of four. If I heard everything, then I would go crazy. But he is right when he says that we may be the only ones that do listen. Our students look up to us and school should be a refuge for them, not somewhere that they are afraid to be themselves.
And lastly, don’t be afraid of technology and always continue to learn. If we don’t learn anything else in Dr. Strange’s class, he wants us to learn these two truths. We as educators need to take advantage of the technological tools offered to us. It is up to us to teach our students how to use them as well. If we think that we have nothing left to learn, we are sorely mistaken. This will only hurt our students. Mr. McClung said it best, “We work in a learning environment, so why not soak up as much as you can? We owe it to our students.” I will take these words of wisdom with me.