Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reflective Teaching, Day 30: Facing Fears

Day 30--What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?

I look at my teaching life and see a lot of things I could fear, but I realize that I cannot let my fears overrun my wisdom and faith if I want to advance instead of retreat.  I have to fight the paralyzing effects of fear.

As I contemplate what fears I have about teaching, I run the gamut from silliness (showing only movies for the rest of the year without the fear of reprimand)  to poor judgement (saying exactly what I have always wanted to say to an apathetic parent without the fear of reprisal) to illegality (smacking an annoying student over the head without fear of repercussion).

So what would I do if I weren't afraid?  Would I chuck the standardized test prep out the window because I know that the students cannot be judged by a blanket test that tells us more about the state of their minds on the day of the test than whether or not I have taught them?  Would I take a stand against the pressures of administration, school board, or even community in order to hold my ground on curriculum matters?  Would I try some out-of-the box teaching style that scares me because it is so different from what I'm comfortable with?

Fear is a paralyzing thing, as the quote says.  I fear that I'm not good enough.  I fear that I will not make a difference.  I fear that I will not connect with my students in a meaningful way that makes them want to learn.  I fear that am not living out my calling when I allow my fears to govern my life.

While I believe in Roosevelt's quote about how fear is paralyzing, I also know the cure.  Love casts out fear.  I teach high schoolers who often make loving them difficult, but I do.  Teaching this level of student is my passion.  If I remember why I teach these kids, my fears fade in the face of that pure light.  I see these kids who are filled with their own insecurities and worries and fears every day.  

I must let my love for them and this job overcome any fears I have about my ability.  I have to throw that fear out and be willing to be vulnerable about who I am in order to connect with the students who are feeling so vulnerable.  I must cast away any trepidation so I may do my best job each and every day.

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