Friday, April 11, 2014

Teacher Without a Class

I do not have any students. I work in a school of over 900 students, but none of them are mine.   I am an Instructional Technology Specialist, which means that I am not assigned any students.  This is my first year in this role, and it has been a whirlwind year to say the least.  There are so many differences from when I was a 4th grade teacher last year, some positive and some negative.  I love my role, and have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to teach adults and help them grow as educators.  But, something has been gnawing at me since we came back from winter break.  Something was missing, and I just couldn't figure it out.  Then, it hit me...

I do not have any students.

Sure, you could say that every student in my school is now my student, and you would be right.  Sort of.  However, it is not that simple.  I am missing something, and I think it is the close relationships that I developed each year with my students.  I was a classroom teacher for 11 years, and relationship building was one of my favorite parts about it.  I loved getting to know my students, and learning everything that I could about them.  It was so important to me because this knowledge really helped me accomplish so much with them.

I firmly believe that students won't care what you know until they know that you care.  I can't remember where I heard that saying first, but I truly embraced the concept in my classroom.  By taking the time to get to know the students, not only at the beginning of the year, but also throughout the year- on the playground, in the cafeteria, as they rolled in in the morning; I fostered a relationship with each and every student that reinforced the idea that I cared about them as a person.  For some students, it was more challenging to develop that relationship, but I still worked at it until I was successful.

It was because of that strong connection that I believe I was able to accomplish so much with my students. Because they knew that I cared, they would trust me when I came up with some crazy idea- which was pretty often.  Because I cared enough to learn all about my students, I was able to zero in on what each student would need to succeed at any given moment.  Because I cared, the focus was always on the students and what they needed; it was never about me or what I needed.  Because my students knew that I cared, they believed in themselves and knew they could accomplish whatever they set out to achieve.  Because I cared about my students, I didn't care about making mistakes in front of them.

Now, I do not have those students anymore.  Sure, I have connections with some students as I work with them in their classes.  But, it is not my class, I am now a visitor in their class.  This is a different dynamic, and it is a challenge for me.  The things that I used to do with my students in our class may not be acceptable in another teacher's classroom.  I have had a difficult time restraining myself at times because I was so used to it being our class.

What do I do now?  How can I fill in this gap that is missing from my professional life?  I haven't figured it out, obviously, or else I would not be writing this post.  I am reaching out to educators that have gone through this type of 'loss' to see what you did.  I do not want to return to the classroom because I really love my new role, and I am beginning to wonder if this is just something that I need to accept and move on from...

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