Thursday, February 12, 2015

Being a Young Teacher: A Pro/Con List

Recently, my students completed evaluations of all their teachers. After the evaluations were complete, I was able to request my results. Like the majority of evaluations from students, they said I gave "alot of work" (yes, "alot"). There was also the one random kid who either really does not like me or is not happy with their grade so they say I'm a horrible teacher.

Over the course of four years, I have learned to ignore these types of reviews. My subject tends to have a lot more "work" because they have reading and when 99%* of the reviews say they strongly agree or agree, then I know I can ignore the one that puts "strongly disagree" for everything.

The rankings were nice but the really telling part were the comments. When I first began to read them, I was loving them. They made me smile and sail on cloud 9.

My freshmen talked mostly about my instructional ability:

"Ms. **** is supportive, educated, and hardworking."
"She knows how to help someone get something if they don't get it"
"makes class less stressful keeps class on track"
"She is good at giving us helpful study guides and preparing us for tests. She assigns helpful homework that helps us to learn the course material"
"Knows how to make class fun"
"I don't think that I would have understood anything if she did not explain it the way she did."

My sophomores did the same but I am apparently making a bigger impact with them beyond the classroom. I put any of  the lines that really got to me from longer comments in bold.

"Ms. ***** is my favorite teacher because she keeps it real and is so understanding. She makes sure that the student is comfortable with what they're doing and is willing to reach out with a helping hand. We need more teachers like that. Her humor is spot on and her music taste is out of this world. She makes me feel important."
"An iconic role-model, really."
"Constantly reminds us of the times she'd be available whether it's before or after school. Even sets apart a time for the student to sign up for a time slot for the specific assignment. Ms. **** still goes to class. How she still makes time for us, I don't know. I aspire to be like her"
"I have dreams to be a teacher and I want to be like her."
"Great role model, easy to talk to about grades and assignments, awesome and amazing"

When I first read these, I felt honored. I was helping my kids more than I realized. I was doing such a good job that they want to be like me.

As time went on, it hit me:

They want to be like me.

I am 26 years old. I barely feel like an adult.

On Instagram, I use the hashtag #adulting when I feel like I did something adult worthy like cooking dinner.  I have less than $100 in my checking account and the only reason I actually no longer have car payments is because I got in college. I'm swimming in student load debt and I routinely have boxed or canned food. I drink crappy wine and beer because I can't afford anything else. I read articles like this one from Buzzfeed and do a laugh/cry because it pretty much sums up my life. The only thing I'm 100% sure about in my life is that I'm actually in the correct career which is more than I can say for some of my friends.

And these kids look up to me.

I can't decide if being a young teacher, especially to students that are barely 10 years younger than me is a good thing or bad thing. So, I decided to make a list.

Pros of Being a Young Teacher

  • I get the majority of their references which makes it easier to know if they are doing something they should not be doing.
  • I can relate to them because the pop culture references I pull from are exactly the same ones they would pull from
  • They feel more comfortable around me because I remind them more of an older sister than a mother
  • I can still remember what it felt like being a teenager so I'm more willing to cut them some slack
  • They are able to look up to me because I'm closer to their age

Cons of Being a Young Teacher

  • They look up to me and I barely have my life together
  • I barely have my life together
  • I barely have my life together
  • I barely have my life together
  • If you didn't notice, I barely have my life together.

Normally, I'm able to come to some conclusion about what I'm writing about at the end of my post. This case, however, I still don't know how I feel about the kids looking up to me. I'm glad that I'm making such a positive influence on them. I love my job and the comments about what I do well validate my teaching. 

I just hope they don't put me on a pedal stool and expect me to be perfect because I'm so far from that it isn't even funny.

I just hope they know I'm not infallible.  

*This is one percentage I know for sure is correct because only 100 kids filled it out.

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