The Loves and Woes of Teaching

As a teacher, and one with a blog, twitter and on facebook, it is hard to know what I can say or not say. Many things can be construed the wrong way, which is not what I want. I am usually careful not to say anything too negative but there are times, as in with any job, where things don’t go as planned and you wish and wish that they could be better.

I love my job. I love working with my students. I love the special perks of snow days and summers off, although after working crazy hours (teachers bring home work after work and work on weekends) you need the breaks to stay sane (well, somewhat sane). It is one of the most stressful careers, but it keeps a bored gal like myself constantly on my toes. It also keeps me wondering why we teach the way we teach. I am a middle school teacher so I do not teach the basics of reading any longer although I have taught first through seventh grade, minus fifth grade. Almost every day this year, I leave work questioning why my students read at such low levels, wondering how to teach them to read when by now they should be reading to learn not learning to read.

Earlier today, I mentioned to my paraprofessional how my students cannot sound out words, but then realized that they do not teach reading the way I learned. Phonics was big when I was growing up. I learned what each letter’s sound was, the grouping of sounds (I won’t bore you with technical terms like grapheme, phoneme, etc.) and I learned that by sounding out words you can read almost any word and you can spell almost any word. Many people cannot do that nowadays. In fact, a coworker of mine cannot spell well at all  because she wasn’t taught the same way I was. Do not get me wrong, she is crazy smart and such a great teacher, but spelling is just something she doesn’t do well.

My daily question is how do we make this better? We, as a society, all learn very differently. I wonder if that is why we are constantly changing the way we teach the fundamentals (math and reading) due to the many different ways people learn. But then aren’t we always leaving someone out. We cannot possibly reach every learning style with every learning strategy. I wish we could. I wish I could reach every single student, I truly do. I lay awake at night thinking  how to reach my students. There are so many ways of learning and just experiencing daily life that many people aren’t even aware of. In fact, I am a synesthete so I learn and experience things a bit differently than the normal person. I attribute this to helping me read. Some synesthetes see colors for different words, taste certain words, etc., etc. I have some of that  but  I mainly “see” some sounds as shapes and I also live in a “subtitled” world.  Sounds like drums have colors and shapes; everything I hear and everything I say is also in subtitles somewhere in my mind. Weird…I know. I try to be open about it because I teach my kids that you should be proud of yourself…to be  confident…to be yourself. So that is what I am doing. Now if I can only teach them to read while teaching everything else I need to teach them.

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