I believe that I’m a good teacher and that I’ve always been pretty good at this. Teaching has always been, in my view, more a divine assignment than a career choice. Much, if not most, of what it takes to do this has little to do with what you can get in teacher training programs. I genuinely believe that.
That said, I spend a decent amount of time regretting that I didn’t “know then what I know now,” in terms of pedagogy. A downside to growth mindset, particularly as a teacher who takes this work super seriously, is that sometimes you can’t help but think about the kids you short-changed at earlier points in your career because you were still figuring it out.
Twelve years in the game and I’m really working to quiet some of those voices and to just embrace the growth.
CI is very new to me. Maybe two or three years ago my wife (a seasoned Spanish teacher) went to a TPRS workshop and came home bursting with ideas. It wasn’t until last school year that I really began reading and researching this method.
I have always had a mission to decolonize my classroom. I always tried to center Black and Brown people in my curricula, but I struggled with how to make it accessible to everyone, particularly lower levels. I had put together an AfroFrancophone-centered curriculum for my 4/5 Honors that I’m still very proud of, but I had always felt a looming sense of guilt that a student would have to wait to see if they survived the gauntlet to finally one day have some mirrors and windows into Black French language stuff.
Finding CI was exactly the final ingredient I needed to the magic potion. So because I’m a crazy person, I put in a solid 10,000 hours in the last two years sorting through ideas and practices to finally be able to give every kid in all of my classes what I believe we all should have.
While I really wish I could go back in time and do this for all the kids I taught in the first decade of my career, I know I have to practice showing myself some grace in knowing that I’ve always done everything I possibly could, and that it’s because of those experiences that I’m able to do what I can today.
So, I guess a takeaway, if anything, is A.) to never stop growing and learning and seeking to become better at this invaluable, critical work and B.) give yourself some of the same grace that you show other people’s kids everyday. We can only do better when we know better (and we have to put in some work in order to know better).
Thanks for all the work that y’all do. Thanks for supporting and encouraging me. Take care of yourselves and each other.
À tout de suite 🖤