22 March 2015

What Kind of Teacher Are You?

I was a third-year teacher when I first set out to describe what kind of teacher I was with this set of 10 sentence starters.

I revisited it again 5 years later, and Timehop reminded me that was 4 years ago today. Each time, I have seen some significant changes, but also some noticeable commonalities. I've met some of those goals I had set for myself, but the main theme is I keep growing and learning and trying new things.
  1. I am a good teacher because I don't settle. I keep looking for more ways to help students experience success and to want to learn.
  2. If I weren't a teacher I would be a writer. For a time I relied on my students to keep me human, but I think I'd be able to balance my curmudgeonliness better now.
  3. My teaching style is loose. This freaks some administrators people out. I have general outlines of plans and expectations for behavior, and I can tolerate a lot (too much?) I'm reigning it in a bit, but I don't think I could be happy being strict.
  4. My classroom is windowless. And not my own. Working at an early college is awesome, but there are downsides to essentially renting space on a college campus.
  5. My lesson plans are two sets of  Google spreadsheets now: one with a semester outline and one with weekly tabs those requisite intricacies like objective alignment and warm-ups.
  6. One of my teaching goals is finding a balance between appropriate expectations for novice language learners and meaningful real-world project-based learning experiences.
  7. The toughest part of teaching is keeping up. You get ahead a little, think you can take a break and then wham! Snow days. Or wham! 68 projects to grade. Or wham! Three 12-hour workdays in a week. And then a virus. That goes through your whole family.
  8. The thing I love most about teaching is creativity. This is the one thing that has not changed in 10 years. I like how I get to write and draw and invent every day, and then my kids crack me up and blow my mind on a daily basis.
  9. A common misconception about teaching is that it's something we do to students rather than something we entice them to participate in.
  10. The most important thing I've learned since I started teaching is seeing students first. I'd heard the platitudes about teaching KIDS not SUBJECTS, and I thought I followed them. Until "Jenny," I was still too caught up in myself to see the source of insults and anger as anything but personal. I am proud to report Jenny is getting all A's and B's her first year of college now, and her son is a bright, happy two-year-old!
Pausing to put into words how I feel about my practice--and myself--has been a useful exercise each time. It's nice having a record of where I'm going and where I've been, too. I also really enjoy it when other teachers chime in and share their experiences, too, because it's another way to see not only ourselves but what we could be for our kids.

So...what kind of teacher are you?

Post your answers in the comments or send me a link!

I'm noticing some common themes of a growth mindset, creativity,  and flexibility in the posts I've seen so far. I love how much we all have in common! I think some of the most enlightening responses from me have been about what we would be doing if we weren't teaching and our classroom setups. 

Check out comments below from Sharin Tebo and Katie Bartlett 
and posts from more great educators!


  1. 6. One of my teaching goals is to create a more personalized learning environment for my students, in which I serve more as a guide and facilitator, to help them identify and capitalize on their learner profile, help them map out their customized learning path(s), as well as provide them a proficiency-based pathway so that they can demonstrate what they know and can do in the language.

    10. I have learned that students are at the center of all decisions we make in the teaching and learning process. It has to be this way in order to really serve students and meet them where they are for success in any learning activity or learning goals.

  2. 1. I am a good teacher because... I engage and interact with my students. Too often, education is formulaic with teachers presenting information while students passively listen, take notes and regurgitate it later in the form of a quiz or essay. I actually talk with my kiddos and partner with them in taking ownership of their language learning.

    2. If I weren't a teacher I would be... an interpreter. I love Spanish and I love people. Gotta have a career that would allow me to engage with both on a regular basis.

    3. My teaching style is... carefully planned spontaneity. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. I plan the structure and content of each class, but leave plenty of opportunity to allow students to speak into it and add their own creativity to the stories and activities in class.

    4. My classroom is... malleable. There is enough flexibility in the space and furniture of my classroom to quickly arrange its set-up into whatever I need, be it traditional row, table groups, circles, a theater in the round, conference room and much more!

    5. My lesson plans are... fluid. I am not married to my plans and I can modify them at the drop of a hat according to the needs of each of my classes.

    6. One of my teaching goals is... to commit to teaching in Spanish ninety percent of the time in all of my classes, including Spanish 1. This is an ideal that I aspire to, but all too often fall short of for the sake of convenience and ease.

    7. The toughest part of teaching is... all of the responsibilities outside of the classroom. I know supervision duties, policy trainings and the like are all part and parcel of being a teacher, but I hate how much of my time, my energy and my attention that they take away from my class and my students.

    8. The thing I love most about teaching is... giving my students a vehicle (Spanish) by which they can discover more other people and people groups and, by extension, themselves.

    9. A common misconception about teaching is... that all students should be expected to be college-ready when they graduate from high school. Rather, all students should be equipped to move into the next phase of their lives, whether that is college, technical school, the work force, the armed forces, etc. College is not the end-all, be-all for producing a productive citizen. Partnering with students to achieve their goals and their dreams should be our goal.

    10. The most important thing I've learned since I started teaching is... that a good class routine established from the beginning of the school year will save many discipline headaches and maximize effective instructional time.

  3. Here are my thoughts! https://lasclasesdestilson.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/259/

  4. Here is my response to your post. Thanks so much for the opportunity to reflect on teaching like this!