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I have this vision in my head of the teacher I want to be.
I want to have the courage to love my students, as Darder encourages.
I want to be a role model and a create a climate of respect, as Freire wants me to do.
Freire writes, “The climate of respect that is born of just, serious, humble, and generous relationships, in which both the authority of the teacher and the freedom of the students are ethically grounded, is what coverts pedagogical space into authentic educational experience.”
That’s the kind of vision I have in my head when I start every class.
No one did the reading.
Only 5 people have their camera on.
Someone says something offensive or obtuse.
Two students in the corner smirk at me and whisper to each other.
2 out of 5 discussion leaders blow off class on the day they are supposed to lead it.
Those two smirking students say something incredibly disrespectful to me.
A phone goes off and I can’t remember what I was saying.
3 students commandeer the discussion.
A pandemic happens and we have to move online and act like nothing has changed.
An election is going on and I have to pretend everyone is looking at me instead of the obvious screens of news reflected off their glasses.
I want to do so many great, innovative things. I want to trust that without attendance and technology policies, students will show up. But most days, I’m just hanging in there until the “bell rings.” I know most of you will say I should keep trying. I also think that other schools I have taught at had students who I was more comfortable with and who were more respectful.
I think that teaching courses need to train us better for thinking on our feet. We should be trying out classroom scenarios, reacting, and getting feedback. We should be swapping stories about non-ideal classroom spaces and students. I think I would feel less like a failure if we could all talk more about how to cope with real situations. The theories of ideal settings are nice, sometimes inspiring… but most of the time they take the backseat when shit hits the fan. And TBH, that is what always seem to happen because we are teaching young adults at a school that doesn’t value writing and the humanities and puts its young GTAs in classrooms without so much as an introductory class on basic classroom management skills.
So… yeah. Ideal theory, peace, love, respect are all well and good, but what about when….