Embracing the Process

3 Mar

During a parent-teacher interview I heard these words coming out of my mouth “It’s about the process not the product”

WHAT!?

I was of course referring to the importance of students embracing and valuing the process of learning – questioning, being challenged, collaborating, investigating and thinking deeply – rather than always becoming hung up on the final product (be it an unfinished writing task, maths sheet or Y chart).

I have since realised that that piece of advice is incredibly pertinent to me at this very point in my teaching career.

I will not lie, I am a very competitive person – not always publicly – but on the inside I am a very harsh critic of myself and my achievements, always wondering if I’m up to standard.  I have found myself asking ‘am I keeping up’, ‘does my classroom look the way others look by this time of year’, ‘are my students demonstrating behaviour that reflects the expectations I have for them yet’, ‘are our routines evident yet’? Basically I have been self doubting myself into a crisis of confidence – all in an effort to ‘produce’ my dream classroom.

But classrooms are not produced.  They do not simply ‘pop up’.  They are never complete or polished.  Classrooms evolve.  They develop through relationships and are shaped by not only my own ideals but the individual experiences and beliefs of each and every child that walks in the door.

I received a card from one of my students saying ‘You’re the best teacher.  I love you because you are kind’.

Caring, I mean truly caring, comes with time, shared experiences and the growth of mutual trust and respect.  That cannot be rushed; it will never be a final product and cannot be ticked off a ‘to do’ list.  I want my students to remember me because I cared – not because they knew their routines by week 4 or had a snazzy looking classroom.

Taking time to reflect has given me challenging insights into my own preferences for learning – I am very product driven.  But I must not allow that to prevent me from celebrating the challenges that come with day to day growth and vulnerability as I focus on the individuals that have been placed in my care.

What an emotionally exhausting, mentally fatiguing and physically arduous profession teaching is – but only if your focus is on the ‘product’ (or lack thereof)….a year is a long time.

How immeasurably rewarding it is when you can focus on the priceless moments found in the process of every day.

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4 Responses to “Embracing the Process”

  1. Wendy Cave March 4, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Four weeks in and look at what you HAVE achieved SW. I loved reading this reflection because it took me back to my own work in the classroom. Mine was actually never the most beautiful classroom – but it was saturated with meaningful print that my students and I co constructed. I knew it was meaningful because my periodic attempts to remove it would always be met with student protest as they loved and referred to it so often. Remember that journeys are much richer than direct trips!

  2. Coral Swan March 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Valuable reflections and reminders of my classroom too – a relationship with each child and celebrating little steps as well as big steps. You are right: classrooms evolve – especially wall displays that must be from and with, the children – hence meaningful… and used often! Happy days with your class
    Coral

  3. Mel the Literacy Coach March 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Hi,
    This post is a good reminder for the experienced teacher too. I am having the same concerns about my classroom, as a big move and systemic hold ups have resulted in my classroom feeling like a huge mess. I know that it isn’t really as bad as it could be, but it still pretty bad. I have had a few rough lessons this week, when I am still questioning if the student behaviour or our classroom routines are on track. You are not alone. Keep taking it one day at a time and enjoy the learning that is happening in your classroom. I really enjoy reading your posts too! 😀
    Mel

    • Mrs Wansink March 8, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      I am sorry to hear you have had such a tough start to the year! I hope things settle down for you soon. You’re right – it is exciting to know we’re not alone in the things we are going through. I love the blogging community that I am beginning to become a part of 🙂

      Sami

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