Leggo My Ego!

Do teachers carry some innate sense of ego or self importance?  Do we over-reach our authority, reflecting our own personal “agendas”?

I’ve struggled with these questions for the past week or so from a recent Twitter conversation. First, because it connects to my thesis on teacher identity and secondly, because I then wondered to what extent I’d allowed my own self-importance to take precedence in my choices for curriculum or coursework. Was I a complete egomaniac?  It’s taken me a while to reply because I prefer to reflect on things before replying, so here goes!

As a first year teacher, I know I did that. My choice to have students perform and produce The Tragedy of Macbeth was a rookie mistake and completely self-absorbed. I wanted to show off, basically. Annnnd I did. But not before most likely crushing a few students along the way by pushing them into something well beyond their abilities. Thankfully, it turned out beneficial (the students were proud of their work), but I hadn’t considered their input enough.

At the end of my second year, I began to see that high school students, when given options, were so much more enjoyable to work with! So, we had a brainstorming session about the upcoming work and vision of the Theatre department. We worked together to determine the best way to change the course and curriculum to better reflect their abilities (going forward) and the abilities of their classmates coming into the department.

Garnering student feedback was the single most humbling thing I ever did.

Teenagers will tell you how it is. They won’t hold back. What they wanted, they said, was more responsibility and freedom.

     “Okay…so, what do I do?” I asked them.

     “Give us the general idea, and if we have questions, we’ll ask.” They said.

Our Book! : )
As a result of giving them a bit more responsibility and freedom, we learned together how to forge a classroom that understood the power of mistakes and used failures to move forward. Oh, they did do some silly things—such as painting purple designs on the walls of the school—but overall, it was a successful endeavor. We were a risky bunch!  Plus, when their teacher made mistakes, it was hysterically funny.

One day, as we all stood around a mis-constructed set unit that was too high to be used, solely based on the teacher’s lousy (or lack of) measurements, we were silent for a moment, hands on our hips. Then, we burst into laughter borne of humility. Wiping away our tears, we moved forward as always.

My answer then, to my former Twitter-follower, is “Yes, you’re right in that we generally push our methods. However, we also have the ability to learn to do otherwise! That’s why our book is not written solely by me, but along with my students.  They were truly the authors of their class experience, so they share in its royalties.  I may have been possessed of some sort of ego at first, but they sure fixed that!
It makes sense, then, not to ram an opinion down someone’s throat without taking the time to get to know them and how they tick and what they think. The irony of this conversation and its reliance upon hasty generalization is not lost on me. Where you wished to take me, sir, may not be where I would have gone.

The Conversation:
He:  Read this. Perhaps you wld intrupt them and give a blessed assignment? Blog Link

Me (after reading article): Would endeav. to guide them into even richer experience They did gr8t but how much more could've been accomplished w/ guidance?

He:  Don't you see? The adults "guidance" has a goal. Where u wish to take them may not be
        where they wld have gone

     “Would endeav. to guide them into even richer experience." this is the adult ego/self importance I speak of.

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