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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fear of Failure (I'm Back)

I think part of what took me so long to start posting again was trying to decide what I wanted to do with this blog, or if I even wanted to keep it. Once I decided I wanted to keep it, I couldn't come up with the amazing, I'm-back-to-blogging post I wanted. So, I'm not going to do one. I'm back, and here's what's up with me. 

In high school, college, and grad school, I used to have nightmares. You know the ones. I'd wake up thinking that major paper I hadn't started yet was due today, or that I had registered for a class and never attended. But now I find myself on the other side of the desk. I'm not doing homework, I'm collecting it. And yet I still have nightmares.

I think every teacher knows it. The fear of failing your students somehow. Whether it's failing to prepare them for the next exam or next year. It's even a fear of failing, in some way, to prepare your students for life beyond the classroom. These fears terrify me. The students, parents, and school all expect me to teach these children, and I worry everyday that I'm not going to succeed.

My nightmares are different now. Now I dream of an unruly class, me standing in the room desperately (and unsuccessfully) getting them to calm down and pay attention. I dream of forgotten lesson plans, of my whole class failing an exam, or worse, of my whole class failing the course. I dream of confrontations with parents, demanding to know my qualifications, or why I let their child down. They are not good dreams.

And yet, they are just dreams. Everyday, against the odds (at least according to my nightmares), no angry parents show up at my door, my students behave in class, and they show signs of actual learning. As a teacher, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that my students are learning, but it always manages to astound me. I taught stuff! And they learned it! It's like the world's lamest super-power, but I'll take it.

It would be nice to not have the nightmares. But in someways, I don't mind them. It's my brain's way of saying it cares, deeply, about making sure the students in my class succeed. And that is what teaching is about.

Legal-ly stuff: Even though I don't (and will never) name the school I work at, just to cover the bases, everything here is my opinion, and does not reflect the opinions of my employer.