Put Down that Baseball Bat NOW!

image by Jim Storer

image by Jim Storer

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way about my teaching, i.e., not so great. Nothing’s horrible. My students seem to like me; I like them. There’s a nice feeling in our class. They work hard and we’re getting through the stuff they need to know. It’s just…not right.

Like any good teacher, my first response to less-than-perfect teaching is to dig out my figurative baseball bat and start whaling on myself for my professional inadequacies. I’m sure you know just where your baseball bat and catalog of failings are, too, so I’ll spare you my gory details.

I tell my students that when they feel like this about their teaching, they need to reflect: What? What’s something tangible they can connect their dissatisfaction to?  A specific event, a set of circumstances, even a small moment can rub you the wrong way.

So what? Look at the what from as many different perspectives as possible: your own, your students’ and administrators’, those of any other stakeholders.  Where’s the friction? Include expectations, attitudes, beliefs in your thinking. In the process of thinking about these points of or perspectives, be sure to recognize and articulate what you did right.

Now what? Name one or two specific things you yourself  can do differently next time. Do these.

By then, that baseball bat ought to have shrunk enough for you to toss it waaaay back in the closet.

As for me, I think I’m hearing too much of my own voice in class. This goes against some of my basic beliefs about what  makes for an effective learning experience– experience being the key word. And yet, my students want to hear more of my voice, not less. But here’s what hurts:  I’m just… bad at this talking stuff. (Can you see the baseball bat hovering?)  O.K., make that inexperienced.

I think there are several things I can do.  1) Take a closer look at the Presentation Zen materials I’ve been meaning to explore and try out one strategy.

2) When a question flies in from left field, as it always seems to in this class, take a deep breath and trust my gut. Maybe I toss the lesson out the window, maybe I don’t. I feel least happy when I’ve come up with examples or activities on my feet, in response to one of these questions.

The good news is that my students feel comfortable enough to ask. This past week, even though I hurried through my on-my-feet example & felt unhappy with it, I followed through after class by posting more information on our class Ning.

3) At the end of class, ask myself what I did right before I go for the bat.

4) Remind myself that I get to be a learner, too, and let myself be O.K. with that.

Now kiss that baseball bat bye-bye.


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