How You Play the Game

I have a quiet competitiveness. Inside I’m often looking at things as either a “win” or a “loss” , a success or failure. I harbor paralyzingly fears of not being good enough and wondering how I stand up to my colleagues. I worry that I’ll be pushed out of my position or benched. In a profession full of so much stress, it’s not a good way to look at ones tenure.

So the question of the night focused on “what does deeper learning look like in your classroom?” My first reaction was, it doesn’t happen. My students and I are still hung up on grades. We’re still looking for the “win”.

What about the journey? I see my students struggle and I pull out the clipboard and rehash my plays. I talk to them about what’s working and what’s not working. We run a different play, and the wheel keeps on spinning. We’re still behind 20 points with very little possibility of making a comeback. But the key is not to focus on the win, but to look at how we are playing the game. Ultimately deeper thinking is not going to happen without intrinsic desire to learn. I’ve got to cultivate that desire and find the middle ground between rigid standards and life skills, responsibilities and passions, grades and flexible learning.

I get 9 months with my students and I can’t be their coach anymore. I can’t continue to treat them like winners vs. losers. I need to be the conduit and not the catalyst. I can help students get to where they want or even need to go, but they’re going to have to ignite their own passions.

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2 thoughts on “How You Play the Game

  1. After checking out the #deafed chat on Twitter (which I missed!), I decided to visit your blog. So glad I did. I’m also a Deaf teacher (high school ELA) at a school for the deaf. We share very similar perspectives based on what I’ve read so far. Thank you for sharing your reflections.

  2. How open, honest, and reflecting. That was my first thought, too: “It doesn’t.” But it’s there, and I get better at encouraging it over time. And I have no doubt you do, too. Thanks for sharing!

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