Thursday, June 14, 2012

Too Big To Fail?

This year has been a long one for many teachers out there. Teachers are constantly pushing themselves to be better every day in the hopes of reaching more students. As I tried to help teachers and students this year, I thought about whether or not teachers are "too big to fail".

As an educator, I'm tasked with teaching my students the things they will need to know in a designated content area to prepare them for state exams and the next year of instruction. I have been given curriculum to teach the students and have been allowed to determine how to impart the curriculum to the students. It's a fairly straightforward process.

Over the past few years, I have moved away from the traditional "stand, lecture, test" model that teachers have used for decades; to a more project based learning approach to engage my students. During that transition, there were growing pains. I tried new ideas and sometimes they worked great and others were awful. I have always tried to shield the students from my mistakes. Although the lesson might have been flawed, I always made sure to spend the time needed to make sure they understood the material. My failures allowed me to become a better teacher (in my opinion).

Technology has added another element to my classroom the past couple of years. I've been excited (Some say too excited) to try new things and enhance the learning in my classroom. Now, with trying new things, there are always glitches. I never use new technology to use new technology, just like I never used new lessons just to use new lessons. These decisions are based on curriculum and student needs. Trying things for the first time will sometimes lead to failure. Teachers can try things out all they want, but working with 30+ students is different.  To grow as a teacher, we need to try new things. What always works works great until it doesn't. Teaching is not a static profession. Teachers need to continually strive to be better. If we don't try and fail, how to we grow?

I feel I have learned so much from trying new things and exploring what "good" teaching means to me. I want nothing more than to be a great teacher to all of my students. Is that possible? I'm not sure, but I will never give up trying. If trying and failing makes me look like a bad teacher, then I guess I'm failing and failing and will try to learn something from that.

Is trying to be a better teacher worth failing at new endeavors? Is the potential impact on student learning worth the risk? Are teachers "too big to fail"?