So, what are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mkate, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. mkate

    mkate Comrade

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    Okay, I have a job interview on Monday, so this question (among others) has been on my mind. I think my biggest area of "needs improvement" is classroom management, sadly (no, I will not say that at the interview, but I definitely will re-read Tools For Teaching and make a plan before starting if I actually get the job!) The other thing is that although I've had experience teaching, it has been in a slightly different context (aside from student teaching, of course) and so really I am pretty new at this. That means that I have less experience to guide me in all of those split-second decisions that come up over the course of the day, that experienced teachers can make instinctively based on past experience.

    One of my strengths, however, is that I am constantly reflecting on my practice and looking for ways to improve.

    I'm sure once I've been teaching longer I will be able to identify more easily both strengths and weaknesses. But since this has been on my mind, I'm curious to hear what you veteran (and new!) teachers have to say.

    What are your strengths and areas that need improvement? What have you worked consciously on to improve?
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2010
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It sounds to me as though your major weakness is a lack of experience (something they know from your resume anyway.) With more experience, the classroom management thing becomes easier because you have more tools at your disposal.

    My major strength is my experience. Because I've been teaching so long I've taught almost every course we offer. As a result, I've told both my chairman and the Principal to do my classes last; I'll be happy to cover whatever grade or course they need me for. (As a result, I've sometimes been pulled from my own classes mid-year to cover, say, a maternity leave in Precalc.) Give me a room number and maybe a page, and I can go in and teach it competantly and completely.

    My weakness is that I'm not all about technology. Give me a blackboard and some chalk, and maybe a scientific calculator, and I'm good to go. I could probably make better use of the available technology.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I think that my biggest strength is my flexibility and willingness to always learn and try new things. This extends to my classroom as well, where I'm willing to, sometimes, follow the lead of the students and alter my plans.

    My biggest weakness is most definitely time management; I usually have too many things going on at the same time and struggle to juggle them all. It is something that I am actively working on, however, and am making some progress.
     
  5. teacherfan

    teacherfan Cohort

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    My weaknesses are classroom and time management (always working on both) but I don't think I would really admit to that during an interview, and not being as technologically competent as I should be (this one I would admit to, and let them know what I am doing to improve my skills). My strengths are being flexible and patient in dealing with the students and what goes on in the classroom. I have also been told by those that have observed me that I project a sense of calmness! I guess that would be a good thing although I don't always feel calm!
     
  6. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    My strength is always being willing to learn and try new things, but this can be a weakness as well...

    For instance, when I was done my student teaching, I reflected on the experience. I got glowing reviews from both my co-operating teacher, and the person who did my observations... but I never liked how I taught writing. I also knew that teaching the class I had was really easy... but if I had a more difficult class that needed more instruction in writing, I would be cheating those students.

    So I went to PD about writing, and I picked up books about writing, I paid close attention when visiting other classrooms, what their rooms looked like, and chatted with teachers about their writing instruction. I have worked so hard to develop a good way of teaching writing.... the problem? I have soooooo much stuff in my head that I need to take a summer to sift through it all :lol: I find that I'm starting to find direction in my writing lessons now, but at times I still feel like I'm all over the place.
     
  7. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Strengths: (in all the the recommendation letters written for me), calm and good rapport with students. I think one of my strengths is that I always want to grow/learn; I hope I never lose that. Cuz frankly, I see many long-time teachers, married, kids, etc. and they seem to be (overly?) contented. (It's like the old boxing quote about becoming complacent as a champion.) And they stop trying to do new stuff. And they stop learning. I'm not married obviously, and so I don't know if it's just a natural result of married life. But I hope not.

    Weakness: planning. It's something I haven't done much, and I admit that I need lots of work doing it.
     
  8. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    When I was asked that question in an interview I usually replied that my weakness was that I try to do everything perfectly and often take too much on. I didn't get offered a position. Finally I changed my answer to a lack of experience. I gave a little speech about how I didn't have experience but I needed someone to take a chance on me and that I was worth the risk, blah blah blah and I got a job!

    My strengths right now are my willingness to learn and reflect on my practice. As well, I am super organized.
    My weaknesses - as a first year teacher there are so many. It changes weekly. Just when I think I have figured something out there is a brand new angle or dilemma and I am back to square one!
     
  9. dogs&teaching

    dogs&teaching Comrade

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    Strength: During my first week, I was told by another teacher that some of her students had told her I was very organized. I have heard the same thing for some other teachers and the principal. However, it's more of an organization that is really disorganized underneath it all yet still makes sense. I've been told I find innovative ways to teach material.

    Weakness: Time management and planning. Not only do I teach p.e. and preschool, I'm starting my personal training business, going to college full-time, working out five days a week, managing four dogs, and trying to spend time with the bf. All of that I am juggling and trying not to pull out all of my hair. I have a outline of what I must accomplish when teaching, but not in depth into each section.
     
  10. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    My weakness is definitely time management. I am the world's worst at "teachable moments" that grow into teachable hours or even days. I've committed myself (and brought my class in on) sticking to my classroom schedule. They are to call me on it if I get off. It's really helped. I'm still walking uphill, barefoot, in the snow! :D
    My strengths, according to evaluations, is my ability to make connections to real-life, to teach across the curriculum, and my rapport with my kids. I work hard to create a safe zone in my classroom. No one, including me, is allowed to bring anyone else down.
     
  11. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    My mom's office was interviewing someone once for a job and when they asked her for a weakness-she said "chocolate". She was serious, but I've always thought of going with that answer-just to lighten to mood. I usually said that often times I take on too much-that's my excuse for why my desk looks like it does. I facilitate for student organizations, etc.

    Strength I would have to say patience and work ethic (probably why I take on too much). I am also really passionate about challenging all kids and have really studied a lot about teaching GT in the past couple of years.
     
  12. ACardAttack

    ACardAttack Companion

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    The first one that comes to mind is both a strength and a weakness: Patience; I can be very patient and it takes a lot for me to really yell at my kids, but I can also be a little over patient and allow the students to get away with a little more than they should. I'm still searching for my teacher voice, a lot of it has to do with the backwards education my masters program gives about not calling out misbehaving students in front of the class.

    Strengths; I know my content well and how it connects to different aspects of life and other subjects.
    I am a good questioner, I like to ask students how they got their answer and I am good at scaffolding. I will model a couple examples then I begin to have students walk me through examples.

    Weaknesses: Teacher voice, still working on that (but as I am a student teacher I am still fighting the feeling that they are not my kids and I am just a guest.

    Slowing down for students and putting myself in my students shoes. I am so use to tutoring other math majors who understand a lot of the math lingo and I can move fast, but I have to slow down for my high schoolers because they are in high school.

    Thats it for the most part, I'm sure there are a few others...oh I remember one that my supporting teacher noticed I say a lot, "a little" for example "we're about to start a little activity or we're going to learn about a little new formula?"
     
  13. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    When I was teaching Preschool, my weakness was my awful singing voice. Luckily four year olds are very forgiving of this weakness. It made the panel laugh a little, made me feel at ease.
     
  14. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Weakness: I don't delegate well.
     
  15. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I don't think being married or having kids automatically makes you lose the want to learn more. I don't think that's what you were trying to say, but that's what I got out of your post so correct me if I'm wrong on that! And it NOT a natural result of married life. In fact, it's because we got married while I was still in college and obviously when I started my masters degree that my husband is going back to school to become a teacher.

    Strength: I am very flexible so if a lesson/activity isn't going well, I can change directions pretty quickly without batting an eyelash.

    Weakness: like many, time management. I always overplan and can never fit everything I want to in a particular lesson.
     
  16. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Well... I kinda mean it. ;) I mean, I'm generalizing big-time of course. But it is something that seems apparent to me. When I say a natural result of marriage, I'm mainly thinking about the amount of "me" time vs. the amount of "we" (stuff for the kids) time.

    A single person can take up scuba-diving, or learn flamenco dancing, or take up playing competitive poker at their leisure. A married person (i.e. with kids) doesn't have near the amount of time to devote to leisure activities like that...

    And I think the act of taking on new activities and thirsting to learn actually makes us much better teachers. You continue to learn yourself... that acts to keep you... fertile of mind (active and vibrant), keeps you kinda young, that thirst for knowledge (which you could then pass on). You learn from other teachers (if you are being taught). And you then may think of ways to incorporate it into learning. All that is significant.

    A married person, doesn't have near the time for that kind of stuff. You have soccer games, family outings, etc. to worry about...

    I'm not knocking marriage, or married teachers, or anything like that. I'm just making an observation. I hope to be married someday myself... that's why I said I hope I never lose that (my desire to learn).
     
  17. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Well, that might happen to some teachers, but I doubt it applies to the general population of married teachers. We find activities that we can do as a family, activities we can do on our own. You make time for school activities, your kids' activities, spouse's activities, etc.
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    As a mom, as a wife, as a teacher, I never stop learning. No, I haven't ever gone scuba diving, flamenco dancing, or played competitive poker... none of them interest me. But if any of them did, please believe I would be quite able to do so.

    Do you really believe that parenting a child, or in my case, three kids, allows your brain (or any other muscle of your body) to atrophy???Most certainly not if it's done right.

    When we decided to adopt my son, I learned a LOT about international adoption, about how it works in a variety of nations, and a lot about how different governments work. The first time he got sick, I learned what fevers do and why, and when they hit the scary point. (FYI: it's a different point for each of my 3 kids; their behavior is a much better gauge than the number on the thermometer.)

    When my then 3 year old son decided he LOVED all things trucking, I learned the difference between a back hoe and a front loader. When he was curious about how the ships in upstate Lake George weather the winter, I emailed the steamboat company and I learned about bubblers. He's now a huge History Channel fan, and I now know a lot more about the top 10 military helicopters and tanks than I ever would have imagined I would want to.

    When my older daughter's 2nd grade teacher did a unit on bears, I learned a lot about them. Then they did a huge unit on whales, and I learnd a lot about them.

    My younger daughter had some issues with reading and with speech. Please know that I did my research on that. Even check the questions I've posted here and all I (and others here) have learned as a result of my daughter's issues with language.

    I know that when you play the trombone, the same slide position can produce a number of different sounds, depending on how you place your lips. I've never actually played the trombone.

    When I found that lump in my breast, I learned a lot about Phyllodes tumors. Shortly thereafter, I became one of two neighborhood experts on mastectomies.

    When I couldn't sleep for the good part of a year, I became pretty knowledgeable about all things Disney World. Want to plan a vacation? I'm now a pretty good resource.

    My husband loves watching curling on the Olympics, and is a huge hockey fan. I would never have watched either of those sports had it not been for him. And don't get me started on photography!!

    Anyone, old, young, married, single, parent or not, who has a thirst for knowledge will be a lifelong learner.

    The difference is that my husband and kids have broadened my interests. I would never have thought to learn about backhoes and bubblers and bears and whales and reading and speech and trombones and curling had it not been for those three kids and that man I love so much.

    So if tomorrow one of my kids wants to learn more about flamenco dancing, trust me I'll be the one to ask.
     
    DawnR likes this.
  19. teacherheath

    teacherheath Companion

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    Weaknesses: Time and classroom management. I wouldn't say either is *bad*, but I constantly have to be aware of these things, they never just "flow"--it's a conscious thing all the time.
    Strengths: Patience, calmness (I'm always told this, even though I always don't feel it), reflecting, willingness to try new things and be honest w/ myself about my part in a problem.
    Oh, and I'll say that I feel like I'm a MUCH better teacher now that I'm a parent. I'm not saying others can't be wonderful teachers w/out having kids...just my personal experience. This is my 12th year teaching and my son is in K. I look at things through an entirely different lens now!
     
  20. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Strengths: my passion for teaching and my students, my love for learning, and my experience- in 7 years, I've taught 4 grade levels as both a classroom teacher and currently an in-class support. Also, I have my supervisor cert and principal cert, which is always nice on a resume :)

    Weaknesses: my messy desk and my love of binders- seriously, I can find just about anything on my desk but no one else could and it makes everyone think I'm messy...and I put just about everything I can in binders to keep it organized :) Otherwise I'd say time management now that I am an in-class support teacher b/c I have trouble wanting to work with my low kids too long and I don't always keep to my schedule.
     
  21. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    My strengths are math and behavior management, but my weakness is teaching the language arts, particularly poetry.
     
  22. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    As a word of warning, big time generalizations about teachers on here do not make many people happy...

    That being said, there are people who do get lax in their teaching because they get comfortable with their curriculum. BUT there are people who DO NOT.

    I got my masters before I got engaged, but that hasn't stopped me from wanting to learn. I no longer take graduate level classes b/c I have every certificate and degree that I want at this point, but I learn about all sorts of school-related things. I do research, try things out...and I'm married now. It doesn't stop me. My husband is now in college because he saw my love for learning and decided to try it out so he can be better prepared for his job.

    Be careful of the generalizations you make...you make enemies quickly that way!
     
  23. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    :clap: That's why I love you Alice!
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Why, because I go on and on and on and on???

    How do you guys manage such short posts???
     
  25. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    No, because you explain things so well :) I don't know how I manage shorter posts b/c I tend to be wordy...:lol:
     
  26. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Strength: My desire to constantly learn and look for new/better ideas for teaching.

    Weakness: My penmanship and my organization. When I am teaching and I have to write fast, my writing is HORRID! I have a smart board, and it makes my horrid writing even more horrid.
    I wish I were organized and everything had a place, but no matter how hard I try, at the end of the day, my table is a mess.
     
  27. UCLACareerChngr

    UCLACareerChngr Comrade

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    Haha Alice - Loved your post, and your comment about Curling...having kids actually TAUGHT me about curling because my youngest wouldn't sleep and since I was in the credential program and my wife was working full time, I pulled the duty to stay up with her overnight...I watched all the curling from the Winter Olympics four years ago because they would show it live at 3am, and I became a mini-expert.

    Not to continue to hijack the thread, but I don't think kids or marriage stops you from wanting to learn but it definitely changes your perspective, as well as the amount of time you have available. I'm still able to pursue most of my old habits, just in smaller chunks. Although, I do have to agree with you on one point: I used to play basketball with a group of older guys for years and years every Sunday morning...the week I got married they said "you'll never be back." I thought they were crazy, but that was 10 years ago and I think I played with them twice after that...so maybe you are on to something after all...
     
  28. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    As usual Alice, you have said everything I wanted to say and better than I could have.
     
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That's just because my posts are so long that I'm bound to hit the high points :p
     
  30. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

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    I think my greatest strength is that I genuinely care about my students. I want them to love school, love learning, and have fun too. I also integrate music into just about EVERYTHING, which I find helps kids learn.

    My greatest weakness is my craftiness, or lack thereof. I find other ways for my students to explore and learn, but crafts are not my forte. :)
     
  31. mkate

    mkate Comrade

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    I'm really enjoying hearing everyone's thoughts on this!

    And as a married person (with three kids) who went back to school to get an Ed degree while married and a parent, and am about to start my own teaching career (hopefully very soon!), I can also say that being married and/or a parent does not translate into being complacent. I know myself, and I know that I will always be on the lookout for new techniques or ways to improve my teaching.

    It's true that having a family makes you prioritize differently, and it's possible that a single person might choose to devote many more hours of the day outside of school to thinking about teaching, but I like to think I've learned how to maximize the time I have and use it more efficiently.
     
  32. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Strengths: Passion and content knowledge about history. I'm nuts about it, know tons of anecdotes on topics and use them to connect students with the lesson. Strong presentation skills and I love to perform.

    Weaknesses: Talk too fast at times. Also related to this, I need to do more adjusting of the instructional delivery towards students - sometimes my talks are too high level for them. This will come more with experience (I am an ST right now).
     
  33. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Strength: I think I have pretty good classroom management. I have evolved over the last few years but I have always been reflective about how to improve in this area. Now I'm on the school's PBIS committee. That's perfect for me! I also like to teach new words. I was a word study aide for 4 years and even during my first year of teaching,

    Weakness: Time Management and Distractibility. I like to talk and need more frequent breaks. This is not the part I normally share during an interview but one of the reasons is that I'm bipolar and have ADHD tendencies. I get easily distracted by all the extra activity during prep time and I like to talk too much. I combat this by coming in the morning before work starts (when it is quiet) and coming in on Sundays (which I hate). This allows me to focus better. I wish I did use my time better throughout the day but I'm realistic enough to know what works for me. Also, I write my agenda on the board for the exact same reason. I get distracted and may forget what my lessons are for the day and can't keep up with my lesson planner all day so it stays on the board to keep me on track. It works for me! The other K teacher says all that writing I do on the board (the agenda plus my to do list, etc.) seems so distracting to her but she realizes my students are fine with it (I use a dry erase easel for them) and it works for me! Plus I tell her that if nothing else, students become aware that writing has a purpose.
     
  34. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    ...and consider, please, that being married and becoming a parent actually makes some people better teachers....helps some develop a deeper understanding and empathy for the families of the children they teach....:angel:
     
  35. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That most certainly was the case for me.

    No matter who the kid is, no matter what grief he or she causes me, I know that this kid is the entire world to someone, somewhere. Someone is hoping he is making the right sort of friends, knows that he has a math test 4th period, is hoping he got to the nurse for his meds, or that the teacher wasn't too hard on him for the homework she found on the dining room table.

    It's hard to explain, but I KNOW I'm a better teacher for having children.
     
  36. hp123

    hp123 Comrade

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    Strengths and weaknesses

    Strengths: I love children, everything about them. I would much rather work with chidlren than adults.:) I have good classroom management skills, and have become good at planning.


    Weakness: I have a hard time taking with constructive criticism. This will be very difficult during the student teaching phase for me. I'm a perfectionist. I think I overanalize the feedback instead of using it as a growing point. Hopefully, I can relax enough to really utilize it.

    As far as losing the "passion" for teaching because of getting married, children etc.... My husband and daughter have INSPIRED me to go back to school and follow my dreams. I want to set an example for my daughter that you really can achieve your dreams, and my husband encourages me to have the career I've always wanted.

    I believe I will be a great Elementary school teacher when I'm done. I think my experience and age (33) have made me more grounded, and will make me an attractive canidate. (I hope) :)
     
  37. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    As a parent I understand that first and foremost I want my children to be safe and treated right. I want them to be respected ven when things are tough. I want the teachers in thier lives o care for them. Is is BEFORE the academics and before the passion for teaching. I want their teachers to have patience and nderstanding and have hier best interest at heart even when I realize there are more than a dozen or two other kids in the room. Half of the solution of dealing wih parents is not set in who is right or wrong but gettng through to them that you truly care about thier child.

    As a parent who has been through a year and a half of ordeal with my child and having my sweet child from home have a behavioral disorder that keeps him from productively participating in school and knowing he has to go to a special school to help him cope, I especially understand the basic wish all parets want. I also understand that there is a balance between wanting to know what goes on in school and the desire to see the teachers deal with my child on a humane and loving level and not the sum of his actions. I want the teachers to have the same empathy and unconditional love for my child as I have. It's okay to feel distress or to vent but at the end of the day, is that teacher as protective of my child's interest and future needs.

    I understand that 5 min of homework on a busy family night multiplied by several children is a lot. I understand I still have to do it as a parent but I do not scoff that it is only 5 min.

    I understand the importance of a few kind words from the teacher to give me a small link into my child's world.

    There is a lot that I understand as a parent. Some of that comes with experience too.
     
  38. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    cutNglue--your post should be mandatory reading for all teachers.
     
  39. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Feb 8, 2010

    Typing on an iphone is definitely not accurate! The meaning is just as clear though. Thank you MrsC. All this is definitely a strength factor for me as a teacher.

    I've learned a lot about what parents want through being a parent. Yet I've learned a lot about what kind of teacher I want to be from my children's parents as well. There is one teacher a few years back that I STILL to this day tell the Principal that she truly made my year. Somewhere around a few months into school, she decided that she would start emailing me 2-3 times a week about my child. For a teacher who has plenty of kids in her class, I was immediately impressed. She had all kinds of cute stories to share. Then later when my child wasn't an angel that day or that week or she needed to share something less pleasant with me, I was more in her corner than I ever had been for any of my childrens' teachers. I have no idea how much passion she had for teaching her subjects or how good she was at teaching lessons. All I knew is she cared about my child. To this day, she imparted a VERY powerful lesson I now apply to my own teaching. I work really hard to make sure parents know from the beginning that their child is important to me and sharing their child with them is important to me as well. It has worked tremendously in my favor so far. It may be my first year with my own classroom but parents are telling my boss that I'm a good teacher and they are impressed. I'm not certified yet, haven't finished my degree and they have no reason to know anything about my teaching. All they know is I CARE.

    Recently I went to an IEP meeting for my son. The support teacher representing my son's new school said something equally powerful. She noticed that the language in the IEP was focused on the end goals and not on the preventive goals and finding the causes or how to help my child achieve these goals. BLESS HER. She noticed my child and wants to help HIM. It kept coming out at me throughout the meeting both during the tour and during the county meeting that this woman cares about the children and not just the results and the expectations my child is expected to show. THAT is what I'm looking for, as a parent. That's what I'm trying to show, as a teacher.
     
  40. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

    Joined:
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    Feb 8, 2010

    My weakness is being lazy. I have never really written down all the different things I do with kids. But during the course of the year I usually hit most of them in PE. Working alone I sometimes stagnant and get into a rut. I now have some trouble with names ( I do two schools and see them 1/2 the time.)
    My strengths are my eternal optomism. I can talk to kids at their level sincerely. I am good about publicizing our activities in the local paper. I try hard to find something each kid can be successful at. I dont miss much work. I work hard at praising
    kids when ever possible, especially the ones that usually get the
    scoldings.
     
  41. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

    Joined:
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    Feb 8, 2010

    You aren't lazy. You are weak at documentation. There is a big difference.
     

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