Randon Ruggles, my student that I share with Kristin Leclaire, and I reflect each day after school about how the day went. We take the time to break down issues, talk about things that went well, and of course, have our takeaways for the day. At the end of the week, we also try and set some goals to focus on for the next week.
Lately, Kristin and I were talking with Randon about classroom management and Randon’s struggles with figuring out his style. It was one of those really interesting conversations that came together as a result of previous conversations. We had talked about my wanting to “save” randon and fix his problems with classroom management, but if I did that, it would be a huge disservice to him as the teacher, to the students to learn about respect, and to me, because then I would be “MOM” stepping in to save the drowning child. He isn’t really drowning but the waters are a little rough!
So, after some time talking through the various ways he can deal with classroom management, I turned to KK and asked her, “How did we get here?” I feel like I am dispensing all this advice to Randon and am unsure of how I even came to know what I know. I mean wasn’t I once a student teacher? I remember good days at Discovery Middle School with Mrs. Snyder and Mrs. Rosenburger (two of my ninth grade teachers). Wasn’t I once trying to figure out how to plan a lesson, or a novel, or a unit, or a whole semester? Wasn’t there a time when I was sitting up late at night grading papers and wondering what feedback kids need and how do I give feedback, what kind of feedback should I give, how much should I give, etc…Wasn’t there a time when I was teaching, coaching, and trying to have a life all at the same time? How did I figure out all of this?
I really enjoy the conversations Randon and I have after school because it does give me the time to reflect about how things are going for him, what issues and challenges I can help him with, and help him realize how much he has grown and changed since he has been student teaching here. The questioning with him of his choices is one of my favorite things. I really enjoy listening to the change in him. At the beginning of the year, the focus was so much on me and my interpretations of what he did, and now, I can see him fixing mistakes, recognizing growth before I even have to say anything. It is like watching your students change over the course of the school year. You first watch them flounder in these unknown waters of learning, and gradually they learn to tread water, then they learn a few strokes, and before you know it, they are competing with the best of them in the long distance race of learning and growing. Randon has come so far, I just wish he would recognize it. Maybe I need to do a better mentoring job of helping him see it.
I also enjoy it because I am able to reflect on my own teaching journey and remembering all the lessons I learned from my various screw-ups, bad choices, too much placed on my plate, and lack of sleep. Yes, Randon, even I have made bad choices! I am definitely not perfect and I am sure that many can tell you of things I did in my first years of teaching that left others with an uncertainty about me and teaching. But no matter what happened, I survived. I learned from those mistakes; I took them as opportunities to grow and change. After all, that has to be how I got here: mistakes, bad choices, great days, long hours, reflection, life jackets, laughing, teasing, learning, relearning, changing, adapting, connections, relationships, tears, coaching, playing, reading, writing, revising, and the support of those around me encouraging me to succeed and see all that I had done.