Do you think that when a little Caterpillar comes out of his cocoon he is surprised to find that he has wings? Does he recognize that his wings work?
I have had my own metamorphosis in teaching this year. My wings are finally here and I am learning how to use them. Maybe I was just a late bloomer?
I used to think a lot about content. I used to think all the time about how to cover information. I find that I am always thinking now about the process of learning. I still look at standards, but I look more at the students and the assessments.
What changed? Some of what changed is I have had two years to expressly observe the learning of others. Before I was a teacher, I could only think about how I learned. That is one person and it lead me to some bad conclusions. I have always learned things in one sitting and I don't like repetition. You can imagine how that would turn out if all teachers taught only to that learning style.
I have also learned to look at the kids and the standard and set goals. That was too overwhelming for me in the beginning, but I know how to do it now.
I'm kind of rambling and I am trying to describe a process that I don't fully understand. Here's the irony that I am trying to express: the steepest learning curb I have ever faced is learning how to teach.
There is a take home message in this about new teachers. There are many things written on how to support, train, and improve performance in new teachers. I am sure there are things that are far more effective than others. Maybe the key, though, is not crushing the caterpillars before you see what they might turn into. Why do so many new teachers quit? Is it because they are just not cut out for teaching? Maybe. Is it because the job is harder than they expected? Probably, at least for some. One thing I know is that I would have quit after last year if I had the means to do it. Why would I have quit? Because I was getting the message that I was and always would be a caterpillar and I was forcing children to miss out on the butterflies. Maybe in some sense that was true, but in another sense, who is going to be doing this job in twenty years, if that is the message given to teachers who are just starting?