Check Yes or No

I individually tested a 4th grade student today.  He was taking a writing benchmark, so it was an opportunity to work with him one on one in order to help him remember test taking strategies and such before the actual TAKS testing day. His teacher had instructed him to read out loud before the test, and, as he was doing so, he struggled. I told him a few of the words, and then stopped myself, knowing that on the actual test day, I wouldn’t be allowed to do that. Instead, I told him to ask me when he needed help on a word since he could do that on the actual test day.  He went back to work reading, and I went back to work taking notes.  A few minutes later, he looked up at me and said, “You know Mrs. Sides, you’re the first one to ever help me like this. The other teachers I’ve had have always told me no.” Can you say heartbreak and tears on my part?

Today, Shelly Terrell’s goal #11 is to either ask a question, or learn how to say no when your plate is too full as it is.  This year, I have begun to learn to say no.  You see, my official title is “curriculum technologist.”  However, most of the teachers on my campus have seen me as technical support for the past 3 years rather than someone who could help them incorporate technology into their curriculum. If they had a problem, they emailed me and I came to the rescue.

At the beginning of this school year, we changed the way teachers were responsible for putting in trouble tickets for equipment that needed to be fixed.  I saw this as the perfect opportunity to begin to transfer technical support back to our IT department and allow me to concentrate more on the instructional side of technology.  Even though my schedule is still completely full, it’s because I’m spending more time working on curriculum for my teachers and helping them incorporate technology into their classrooms, and not because I’m running around fixing things all the time.  Despite the full schedule, I’m completely happy because I learned to say no.

Even though I have learned to say “no” to certain things, there will always be things that I say “yes” to.  When it comes to my students, they will always have my full support.  Just like the young man that I tested today, I want them to know that they can ask me questions and request my help. In addition, I want them to feel comfortable asking me if they can do activity B rather than activity A that I have suggested (as long as it’s resonable of course!).  I hope that I am not so intimidating that they feel that they cannot ask, converse, and collaborate with me.

Are you the teacher whose students ask, converse, and collaborate with you?  Check yes or no.

3 thoughts on “Check Yes or No

  1. Loved the anecdote about the student. However, sadly I am not surprised by his experience. I ran a creative writing program at at risk schools and alternative schools in my city. They had the lowest reading scores and faced incredibly difficult situations in their personal lives. I thought the teachers would have a passion for helping these students out. Instead, I frequently saw the opposite. The teachers called them stupid and told them they would amount to nothing. The principal walked the hallways and ignored the teachers yelling in the classroom. I know what it is to grow up in a really poor area, I went to an at risk school for elementary. I was fortunate to have very loving teachers but how about my friends who had the ones who were burnt out by the job?! Teachers have such an impact on students. A kind smile and help goes a long way. This is one reason I’m so passionate about building a support network for teachers. The less that are burnt out by the system then perhaps the more teachers we will have that are passionate and will make a difference in their students’ lives!

  2. Pingback: Goal: Reach Out | Teacher Reboot Camp

  3. I agree. I know that my passion for my job has returned since the beginning of the year. It’s so helpful just to have people support you when you feel like others don’t. Thanks for supporting me!

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