I had had recently been reintroduced to the word technocrat. It’s interesting as it came up in a few different conversations and readings. I wasn’t sure of its exact definition, so I looked it up…
It was an interesting word for me. I believe whole heartedly that teaching and leading is so much more than being a technocrat. Then I started reflecting…Crap!
Have I been too focused on the technical components of teaching? Am I not paying enough attention to the little humans sitting in my classroom and the bigger humans that they go home to? (There are parents I have not even met or talked to once during the past month and a half. I need to make some calls.)
Am I spending enough time building relationships with my students, laughing with them, developing an understanding of their cultures and their desires? I know I want to. I know I am trying. I know it is important to me. I know it is a goal that I have. But, am I executing this? Or are the technical components of the job taking over?
So, relationship building is important, but the reason I need to do this is for the ultimate goal of developing my students’ processing skills to be independent learners.
How do I forget the pressures (inner and outer) of achievement that cause panic and stress and focus on my students and growing their brains?
I know my students need to connect with me. I know I want to connect with them. I see them wanting to come in and hang out before school, recess, and lunch time. Then I hear the words, “Go play!” escape out of my mouth. I want to hang. I want to play. But, I am just full!
I am spending every waking minute creating lessons, trying to keep up with providing feedback (I am so terribly behind on this), and planning a rich curriculum to make sure that I am addressing all the complex standards that my students are required to learn this year. I am full!
ihave a team of grade level teachers that I am suppose to meet with. We have a staff meeting once a week that I must attend. My introverted self is in need of space. I am full!
And while I am spending the bulk of my time on the planning, meeting, and technical thinking, I am still so far behind where I need to be. I am full!
But, my students need to connect with me. We started the year building academic mindsets and understanding why we are in school. We started the year getting to know one another. We are doing great things, but it is never enough. What would happen if I create space: space for me, space for them, space for us?
And then I remembered Zaretta Hammond referring to this in her book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. (I know…I think I have mentioned this book in almost every blog post. It is kind of stalkerish, but it is so so relevant and important. Especially in today’s society.)
I have seen myself in the top two categories. By goal, the stay in the top left. What do I need to do? Can I forget about some of the technocratic minutia this week and focus on us and our humanistic needs? How can I give them access to me during recess, lunch, or before school without taking away the much needed alone time that I need? How can I give them the support to develop the processing skills they need to be active and competent learners?
Can we make our reflection time sacred, instead of finishing up social studies, or science during that time? Yes! That will be my goal this week. I will not go backwards, but I will start where we are.
- I will provide instructive feedback in the right dose. (I am overwhelmed by it because I am not providing the right dosage to my students.)
- I will not skip our two afternoon meetings on Tuesday and Friday to discuss how the class is going and develop next steps for our learning.
- I will open the classroom during two lunch breaks for students to hang out so we can connect and I can make sure I understand their needs.
- I will make my students hold the cognitive load in my class and not me, by having them inquire and develop the questions that lead our study.
- I will give students time on Wednesday for personal reflection and goal setting.
- We will connect our study on cells back to the brain and what our brain needs in order to learn.
Let’s see how the week feels after a little more “personal warmth” and a little less “professional distance”.
****Update**** Well, it has been a work in progress. I have successfully met(and still working on) goals 1, 4, 5 and 6. I definitely need to make more effort on 2, 3. Work in progress.
How do you find balance between the technical sides of teaching and the time to build trust and relationships with students that we all know are vital components to success?