Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ramblings About Teaching and Book Review - No Fear in My Classroom

I read this book as part of the Fall Into Reading Challenge.

This book originally caught my attention because I was interested to see what the book had to say about handling parental problems. As a first year teacher, this was one of my biggest struggles last year. I guess I had always idealized being a "teacher." I wanted all of my kids and parents to like me, ya know? After all, I was responsible for their education 35 hours a week. I bust my butt and make sacrifices just so these kids will know that I love them and gain the knowledge they need to help them be successful not just in the fifth grade, but in life. I dedicated four years of my life just to learn how to do this and will probably spend the next thirty years or so doing it. Why wouldn't they like me??

It didn't take me long to realize that not every parent was going to like everything I did. It even seemed that some of them didn't like anything I did. I struggled with this daily. My heart was broken. Luckily I had an entire support system, without which I would probably have been committed to an asylum:
1.) a common sensical, supportive husband 
2.) fellow interns who were going through the same thing 
3.) an awesome mentor teacher to give me reality checks
4.) two really amazing co-teachers to help me through each and every day
5.) a great principal and caring staff members

Even though my skin is a lot tougher this year, I am still learning how to deal with this issue. My parents are also much better this year, which helps a lot, and they all know that this is not my first year. One year of experience makes a big difference, especially to parents. I'm also realizing that of course some of them are going to watch me like a hawk. They send their babies to me everyday and have to trust that I am treating them like my own and giving them the skills they need to complete fourth grade. I would watch me like a hawk too! And I've accepted the fact that even if I have tried my best and made all of the "right" decisions based on my training and experience, there are still going to be parents who don't agree with me or who feel like I have not done enough. Oh well. As long as I know that I have done my best, I can't sweat it. 

So now, back to the book - 

This book was divided into four parts: Personal Fears, Student Fears, Parental Fears, and External Fears. I did gain some understanding from the Parental Fears section, but that was about it. A lot of the Personal Fears didn't apply to me and most of the stuff from the Student Fears section was pretty much common sense. 

Another thing that I don't agree with is that I think some of the right kind of fear is actually healthy in a classroom. A reasonable amount of fear that I am not doing my best keeps me working hard. Students should fear consequences, or else do the consequences really work? Students should fear not learning what they will need in life, that way they will see the importance of the knowledge and pay attention and actually care to learn. 

By the end of reading the book, I was just skimming for good stuff. I can see keeping it as a resource for future use, but that is about it. Don't really recommend. 

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