Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Inclusive Teacher Workshop

One of the pitfalls of presenting over anything that you are passionate about is the likelihood of overselling it:
It's so easy, effective, practically magic in the classroom! It will solve all your teacher woes! I don't know how I ever taught without it!
I am a passionate teacher, and I am always excited to share things that I have found to be successful in my own classes. I do my best to make anything I share accessible, but I have erred on the side of big ideas lately, instead of thinking about structuring digestible and useful first steps towards these big ideas--things any teacher can take and use in his or her classroom without requiring a major overhaul of method and theory. 
I love what I am doing in my classes right now. It isn't without fault, and there are a thousand things I'm going to tweak next year, but I am happy with my progress toward a no-fail classroom and my students' comfort in Latin.
However. It's not been easy. It's not been without teacher woes. I have spent over a decade developing the skills I use daily in my classes, and I have thrown out more ideas, approaches, worksheets, and activities than I could begin to enumerate. I have made a million mistakes, and I have struggled to slowly pare my practices down to things I believe make an impact on my students' success. There's been a great deal of ego-swallowing and more than a few tears and a little blood shed. 
I think I get so swept up in my excitement that all I communicate sometimes is "Come do what I'm doing! It's fun! It's rewarding!" and I forget the "It involves a huge amount of work and self-doubt! I am constantly questioning my practices and progress! I spend hours upon hours researching and planning and creating materials--only to change it all a month later!" Forgetting to communicate those things does a disservice to anyone seeking to do the same things in their own classrooms. What I do is not easy. I don't have all the answers. I feel lucky when I get an entire day over the weekend to focus exclusively on my family. I stopped reading blogs and going on facebook this last semester so I could survive the amount of work I had taken on.
Next year will be my fourth year without a textbook. I plan to do everything differently. Again.
I work very hard to make my classroom inclusive, yet have forgotten that workshops need to be inclusive too. Teachers come to workshops from very different starting points, and we need to meet them where they are--something I know very well as an attendee who comes with ADHD and difficulties with aural processing. So I will be working on my workshops and presentations to make sure I communicate the struggle and the importance of taking small steps instead of jumping off the high dive before learning to swim (everyone loves a mixed metaphor, right?).
So this is my apology: if my enthusiasm has hidden the difficulty of this work, or made you feel like anything less than total CI is wasted potential or time, I am sorry. It is hard work, and I recommend teaching yourself slowly, by adopting a couple of practices at a time until you feel comfortable enough to add more. And contacting myself or Miriam for help, support, and positive thoughts. That's the most important thing I want to communicate to you right now: we are here for you, we want you to be successful, we know and validate the pain and struggle you are going through.

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