Teacher as Student…And So Forth

I’m thinking that perhaps it would behoove teachers to be students as often as possible.  Formally, I mean, as we’re always students–we’re always learning from our kids, our peers, our classroom experience–and should be students of life.  I’m talking bona fide, sit-in-a-desk, have homework, students.

I just started my Master’s in late August, and even though college isn’t something new to me (I have a B.A. and a B.S.), I’m learning a lot about what it’s like being a student.  This is the first time I’ve taken long-term classes since becoming a teacher, and it’s quite enlightening.

First and foremost?  I get to see how well I, myself, implement all the study tools I’ve been suggesting or mandating to students all these years.  Review notes each day, use Cornell notetaking, organizing binders, highlighting efficiently, SQ3R text reading, working on assignments over time rather than four minutes before they’re due, effective listening techniques…all of it.

And how am I doing?  Well, averaging them all out?  About a C.  Maybe a C-.

I do very well in listening…I’m one of those people who is horribly, terribly, immensely annoyed with students talking while the teacher or other students are, whether it’s my own classroom or I’m in another’s.  I’ve noticed over the years at teacher in-services that teachers are the worst offenders in this regard–behavior they never would allow in their rooms they partake in regularly, talking to neighbors, carrying on full conversations while a presenter is speaking.  Drives me crazy.  So, in that regard, I’m doing well…and probably annoying classmates by occasionally shushing them when the Prof is trying to talk.

On the notetaking, I’m doing well.  On the daily note reviewing?  Not so much.  For many reasons, none of them reasons that most of my own students couldn’t claim, themselves, which is important for me as a teacher, I believe.

Secondly, it’s a new wrinkle on studenthood that I’m looking at my courses and wondering how I would present the same material, and with which resources, and in what order.  I guess once a teacher, always a teacher; the planning, the assessing, the absolute absorbing, is always with me, just as it is whenever I’m hearing the news or waltzing through my regular blogreading and having “I could use that in class….” moments all the time.

And, thirdly?  It’s damned hard to sit in one place for two hours at a time, even with a little break.  I’m a pacer in my classroom–unless the fibro is biting me big time (which happens, and in which case I’m liable to hurt myself if I move too much as it brings dizziness, too).  I often give my own students “stretch time” even in our 50-minute classes because I hate sitting for that long, and yeppers…it’s not any easier for me these days, which could be the spinal arthritis and two bad discs which I’m also lucky enough to be blessed with.

I do often wear my TENS unit during class for this last reason, which led to yet a fourth reason why teachers should be students more often.  To experience the embarrassment.

I was giving a presentation the other night, and not only did I have to squash a half-hour’s worth of information and slides that I’d worked hard on into ten minutes (don’t ask), but the electrodes from my TENS unit came unattached as I bent for something (were on my lower back) and fell to the floor, still connected to the unit on my waistband.  I had to scoop all the wires up and stuff them in my pocket, while trying to explain it briefly to a classroom full of onlookers who thought, no doubt, that I was Frankenstein.

Which is something far different from when I was a student before…in my younger years, I was not only unable to speak publicly, but if pressed to and something like that had happened?  I would have lost it, completely, never to show my face again.  Now?  Make a joke, move on, whatever.

Being a teacher has also been good for my being a student, you see.