The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 03 2013

Pretty Good, Pretty Often

Day 107: So, fun story: I was recently nominated for TFA’s Sue Lehmann award, their national award for excellence in teaching. This is, in short, very cool, and I feel incredibly honored and flattered.

However, I’d be lying if I said some part of my brain was whispering, “Psst. They don’t know it doesn’t always look pretty, do they?” I think of myself, quite honestly, as a very good teacher. But I make my fair share of mistakes, and kids aren’t always perfect and angelic in my classroom. The data shows kids are mastering content, but not everyone – I could still be doing way more for my students on IEPs.

I was a little frustrated on Friday morning because I had tried to record 6B’s digestive system lab, and somehow it got lost. The lesson had seemed damn near perfect, with lots of fun during an inquiry-driven lab, but also high rigor and focused student work. I was upset I’d missed my chance to use such a strong video for my award submission.

But then a funny thing happened. I set up the camera to record the next day’s lesson, 6B’s respiratory system lesson. Aside from the fact the video featured no mushing up Sunny Delight and bread to simulate the stomach, the video was, again, pretty damn good. Students tracking right away. Students on task. Students helping each other. Students working urgently.

The lesson? No, I’m not perfect. That’s part of why I’m excited to teach next year, so I can keep growing. However, when I can be upset that I missed recording a good class, and then get just as good a class the next day? Pretty good sign that I’m doing OK.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

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