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Being a student makes me a better teacher

 I’m in school (again), this time for a master’s in library and information science.

Although I’m not clear whether becoming a librarian makes sense to me, I do know that being a student makes me a better teacher.

I’m feeling the challenge, the stress, and the worry that I’m not good enough. I wonder if I’m doing my assignment right and what the professor will think. I procrastinate, get jittery, and then push through with multi-hour work marathons.

Sounds similar to what my students go through.

The thing I have to remember is: I’ve always been good at school. Even when I’ve struggled, I’ve succeeded.

For my students, this hasn’t always been the case. School is not a place of confidence or comfort. It’s a place where, for more than 10 years, they’ve struggled, felt lost, and noticed their teachers not truly believing in them.

No wonder why they sometimes want to give up.

As their teacher, I have to understand my students and their journey to figure school out. I have to have empathy. But my empathy must not come from guilt or low expectations. Rather, it must come from the expectation of brilliance. While I expect greatness, I must also see failure as part of the process. In fact, if there is to be any true learning, there must be failure.

That’s why I’m excited about the way I’m teaching my English class this year. My students are writing an essay a week, which means lots of writing practice and peer review. Most important, there are many chances for success — and for failure. The best part about building in failure is that it’s also building in chances to rebound. After all, finding success after failure is stronger than always succeeding. 

One comment

  1. tony

    Hmmm. I feel you. I am in my fifth semester now of PhD skool and feel I would be a much better teacher if I went back into the classroom.
    However, I have been thinking recently about the sources of anxiety between being a teacher in a high stress environment (like LHS) and being a student in a high stress environment (like Cal). I have to say that anxiety that comes as a result of being worried about students and wanting to be the best teacher I can feels a lot healthier than the stress of being a grad student. Here, I am on pins and needles with professors, I get up at 4am so I can read articles for class that never even get discussed, I am jealous of twenty five year olds who can talk academic jargon in circles around me, I am constantly revisiting my writing because I want teachers to feel I belong, it is a self absorbed and at times petty source of anxiety. I look forward to reaching a stage in this process where I have some job security so I can go back to worrying about how others are doing as a result of my efforts.

Please share your brilliant insights!