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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Marks of love.

Before handing back my lesson plans, my professor reassured me that her copius comments were "marks of love."  They are not meant to be taken as something negative, they are marks (written in purple or green pen, always.  Those are the only colors in which she ever writes) that are there to help me improve and clarify my lessons so that I can better serve my (future and/or theoretical) students.

And so continues my continual self-analysis of my lesson planning issues.  I have come to a new conclusion.  It's not that I'm a horrible lesson planner.  It is that both my professor and I are perfectionists, at least when it comes to lesson planning. 

I am certainly not a perfectionist in all areas.  In my (unnamed) major I get acceptable grades, (I do well enough to keep my small, but appreciated, scholarship) but I don't strive for the solid A's that I want in my education classes.  Part of that is the way the two disciplines grade differently (which is a whole post I began to write once but never finished and never posted - some day I'll get around to posting it).  Part of it is that I know I will be teaching for at least several years after I graduate from college (due to a l0an f0rgivness program at my school wherein, if you're in the education program you can have some of your student l0ans f0rgiven if you teach for a certain number of years within a certain number of years after you graduate.) 

Most of it though is that currently, I just care a lot more about my education classes than I do my other classes.  Irregardless of the fact that I am going to be a teacher, and so I need to know a lot about education for that purpose, I just find education and the way children learn to be fascinating.  That's what made me what to be a teacher in the first place.  Not necessarily the desire to teach children, but a desire to learn about how children learn best.  As a teacher, I hope to be able to experiment with different methods ("classroom acti0n research" I think one of my books called it) of helping student to come to understand different ways of thinking and different ways of absorbing knowledge.  And since I have these goals, I don't just want to become a teacher who can write lesson plans and get the students to know enough to pass onto the next grade level.  I want to constantly learn as I teach. I want to constantly question what I am doing and why I am doing it and how it is affecting the students. 

And that all requires that I be a perfectionist when it comes to lesson plans.  I am always questioning what I have written.  My professor one time asked, "am I marking up your work to much?  If I am pushing you too hard, just tell me to lay off, and I will."  But since I too am an education-assignment perfectionist, I assured her that I love her purple and green "marks of love" and that I highly value each comment she makes.  So perhaps the way these lesson plans make me go somewhat insane is my own fault.  I asked to be pushed and challenged, perhaps beyond what would ideally be good.  Maybe at my current level of development I need to be challenged less and allowed to feel more confident in my abilities.  When handing back my lesson plans, my professor told me that they were really good, that the comments were there to make them even better.  She would not say that if they were horrible lesson plans in the first place.  At least, I hope not.

But, since I am a perfectionist and I like to be challenged, I'm not going to ask her to change anything.  I will eventually develop an understanding of when it is okay to stop revising my lesson plans.  When I am teaching for real, I will not have the opportunity to write-revise-revise-revise-revise like I do now.  I will write, look over, and use.  I will have to live with the imperfections that exist, and learn from the mistakes as I make them.  Lesson plans can never be perfect anyway.  I need to get myself to understand that.  No matter how many times I revise them, there will always be room for revision, and my professor will always be able to make more comments.  Like she said, the comments are "marks of love" and not meant as criticism.  I am trying to internalize that, since I know that it is true, and hopefully that will result in me feeling less pessimistic about my lesson planning abilities.


Blogger nswtox said...

I found this article interesting as I am also interested in how and why some people learn and others find it harder. It is good to see a student who is interested in the process as well as the children. To be aware of the process of learning and to be open to learning from their students as well as constructive critisism is vital for all teachers.

9:21 PM  
Blogger nick said...


6:15 AM  

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