Through their eyes

Just the other day I found out I’m a hypocrite. Unconsciously, not intentionally hypocritical, but does that really change the point? You may say that I’m being too hard on myself as I usually happen to be, yet this is how I label myself after learning a certain fact. And yes, it is about teaching.

In my presentation “The 3 As of an Ace Lesson” one of the As stands for Attitude. I speak about genuine interest, I speak about respect, I speak about honesty. I speak about it because I believe all these are essential and should be coming naturally from a teacher and then they’ll be generously returned by learners. So I believe.

I also speak about how important it is to be an open and accessible teacher. I speak about it holding a firm belief that I display these qualities, because that’s how I see myself doing my job.

Then an inconvenient truth comes my way – some students feel shy to come up and ask me a question if they don’t understand a task. They see “I’m busy” and don’t want to disturb. BANG. Who is open now? Who is accessible? Who is encouraging? I go the reddest red and “ashamed” is my #wordoftheday.

Blogging, going to conferences, presenting, sharing ideas which you do believe work in realities of classrooms is all so very nice, comforting and self-fulfilling. Sounding successful. We are all great teachers, aren’t we?
At the end of the day what matters to me is what I end up looking/appearing in front of my students, rather than what I imagine myself to look/appear. “Through their eyes” as iSTEK suggested this year.

So… Do you care? Not say that you care, or blog that you care but act for your students so that they SEE that you care?
I was never aware that I seem like I don’t care.


18 thoughts on “Through their eyes

  1. Dear Ann, You are not alone with this feeling. I have felt this way for such a long time – like I’m a fraud, like how I present myself to my PLN is not really how my students perceive me, like I am not who I wish I was in the classroom: an effective teacher, a compassionate person, and human just like them. But we cannot blame ourselves for our students’ perceptions. We can reach out to them as much as possible, but they have to grab hold. We can’t do that for them.

    • annloseva says:

      Thanks Anne! Now that I’ve taken rest, from these painful thoughts as well, I am almost ready to accept that it can be happening again actually. Maybe I am not too compassionate by nature, but I am trying to become such, and not only for my students. Like I believe, any change in my personality brings about a change in my teaching!
      Thanks for being around!..

  2. Josette says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this moment of vulnerability with us Ann. It is beautiful and inspiring. What a gift to be able to not only see but to explore your “imperfections”. Isn’t this where true learning happens? You have inspired me to take a closer look at where I might be too busy myself. Big big hugs!

    • annloseva says:

      Just how warm it feels to share a personal worry like that and be supported..!
      I have no plans of becoming perfect so you’ll get enough chance to explore my imperfections in the future, I am sure)

      I also wondered if I AM busy or just appear to be busy..?..I will try on a more relaxed way. I actually remember that when I worked at school I was constantly in a hurry. It was more of a mental instruction to myself that a real necessity. Turned out pretty bad for my health in the end.. Got to remember that.
      Big hugs!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. Hard on yourself, yes you are.
    You’re saying you aim at being accessible and some students are too shy to ‘access’ you and then you think you aren’t accessible on the whole, just pretending to be so very open and stuff, right?

    I would guess it’s not entirely up to you 🙂
    -You are part of a system (like it or not), where you are a teacher, whatever kind of a teacher you are, you are one of the group of teachers.
    -Whatever you do, there will be shy, silent, maybe introverted students who will never attempt to contact you.

    This is partly because you belong to that group, ‘teachers’ who are (at least around here) usually not accessible or approachable at all, and partly because some students are just really shy.
    If you keep up the attitude of the ‘accessible teacher’, you can turn this whole thing for the better, slowly.

    Aaaaand … What are you planning to do about it?

    On the one hand I feel this attitude (sort of blaming yourself) is good, on the other hand this can be a block. Hmmmm… well, am I on the right track? Do I understand you at all? 😀

    Now so many of my bitter memories are coming up about my not proving to be an accessible-approachable enough teacher :)) I’ll end up writing a post about it … maybe.

    • annloseva says:

      Sound argument about shy students! It’s true that in every single group I teach there are always a couple of students who never address me with questions about anything at all. So yes, it’s not entirely up to me! I like that idea, thanks for reminding me of it, Barbara!

      As for my attitude, I usually have a certain routine – first lame myself and feel ashamed, then feel on the defensive and get stubborn like I know better, and finally I come to terms with it and make a small change, or consider making it)

      Thanks a lot for dropping by! Good to see your comment here:)

  4. tomtesol says:

    I am SO there! Motivated to finish a companion post to this next. No worries — that you understand that some of your students see you this way means you can monitor/work yourself through some changes to ameliorate it. Exploratory practice time? A little self-video? Many many possibilities for you.

    • annloseva says:

      Thanks for good tips, Tom! Self-video is where I’m aiming at, have been for a while. Still taking up the courage!)
      Looking forward to your post!

  5. I definitely think there are teachers all along the spectrum of the qualities you mention you believe are ideal. Sometimes I am busy and don’t want students to interrupt me. That business may be giving feedback on their writing, thinking about what will help them understand something better OR just because they are annoying me. Yes, the latter does happen.

    I think you can never really know how your students see you. Not even asking them helps that way. For me, I almost always have a mismatch between my impressions of myself and theirs, sometimes evidenced by comments on feedback forms. It’s not that I think I’m awesome and they let me in on the truth, but that where I think I show caring, understanding and patience, their answers may suggest that this is not my strong suit. These change from class to class too.

    Although I think it’s wise to learn from your students and not feel criticised, it’s also good to do what you think you do to the best of your intentions and modify it when you think it’s not working anymore.

    • annloseva says:

      Tyson, if I wanted to write a comment to my post I’d write what you’ve written. Very cool. Same thinking.
      Another truth revealed – students can be annoying, it’s a fact! I am with you on that, and I like how it feels once it’s off my chest and typed..)
      It’s almost unfortunate that in the feedback forms my students rarely make any comments about my attitude, however they criticize the amount of grammar we do in class) how do you formulate these questions?

      I’m going to carry on with the best of my intentions.
      Thanks a lot for the comment!

      • Interesting, again with a spectrum. Comments on my (our) classes is often that there is not enough grammar or at least not explicit enough teaching of grammar. In the end, there does need to be enough of a balance to give lessons some validity in the eyes of our students, but really do what’s best for them also.

        Best of luck. And it’s ok to not love all your students and phrase everything as though it’s all rainbows and sunshine. Its not. Classes and the people in them are sometimes dirty, gritty and invoke negative emotions. That’s ok because it’s real.

  6. Hi Ann, as I mentioned recently I am also very self critical of myself like you. But as I remember in teacher training, and I expect you do too it’s good to be, as it shows you know what you did wrong so the next time you get it right. Being analytical has its positive side too, so putting it in to action correctly can only give us benefits, think about not noticing what you did wrong, now that would be something to worry about (I am talking to myself too.) You have also written about what to you seemed unacceptable, this is very courageous as most people wouldn’t dream of it, so again another positive point it shows how human you are. I made a mistake giving my students the wrong answer yesterday, and just said, “the teacher was wrong” felt pretty awful about it, but students can usually appreciate things like this as it puts you almost on the same level and they see a human being and not a teacher, this can help break down barriers, so you see dear Ann, no one is perfect, and who wants to be!? You are doing a great job! 🙂

    • annloseva says:

      Thanks Aniya))
      I remember so many awkward moments when I made a mistake and was wrong in front of a whole group of students! A coup,e of such still have a echo in my mind, but I’ve learnt to deal with these mistakes, as like you’re saying – I am human and so I can make mistakes and I will.
      Thanks for lifting my spirits!) a self-critical party one day we’ll have;)

  7. Rose Bard says:

    Nice and pretty open post Anna! Thanks for writing and opening the line of dialoguing here.

    And I totally agree with all that you are saying there, but I also believe that is important to remember that reality is pretty much a subjective thing and therefore, should be handled/investigated with care. The first thing I learned from the Breaking Rule live course was how not to be judgemental about what I do and what my students do. Which for me was tremendous step, especially regarding myself. I was never hard on the students. Going for a more descriptive approach of the interactions and actions around the room helps us focus on the facts rather than opinions. Although lately I have been playing with the opinion approach with students to open the lines of dialogue in a way to investigate our reality, but above all to understand the people in the room. When there is a line of dialogue open, people can say how they feel about something and by listening to each other and their reasons, it may lead to a more understanding of the situation and compassion/empathy may take place. You cannot please everyone in a room all the time and all at the same time. Although I am learning to consider the affective domain as important part of the process (inspired pretty much by Juan Uribe’s approach), I am also aware that it is not about pleasing but enhancing learning through it. Being aware what is going on in Students’ mind is not easy at all. Nor should we try to be super teachers and get students to praise us for every move we make. My focus is always on learning and if for some reason learning is not taking place, I’ll try to understand why and work on it.

    I love when my school have the students assessing us with the structured questionaire. So much information comes out it. Things we never thought were there. Well, it all comes down to perception and where we are looking at during the class interactions. This also comes down to Ideal X reality. What I see as ideal X to what is really going on in my classrooms. Besides people have their own personal agenda which many times is hard to spot.

    So do you care? You are writing this blog post, so you do. You have been constantly exposing yourself and doing your best to offer the best to your students for them to learn and enjoy the ride, so I have no doubt that you care.

    ps: I’m intrigued though. How did you find out that the students’ perceived you as not caring? What instrument did you use? I am very interested in applying instruments in class that helps me understand them and what they expect from me and the course. So I would love to hear more about the day you found that out. 🙂

    • annloseva says:

      Thank you, Rose, I am always so impressed with your thoughtful comments!

      Just about everything you say echoes in my mind, I know exactly what you mean. Letting go of judgements and analysis, negotiating and proposing a dialogue..that could pose a difficulty though, I am not that confident now that all students would feel comfortable sharing. It is not in their nature, largely due to their previous learning experience.

      Will message you about the p.s. point)
      Big hugs!

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