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Your Classroom is Your Lab

ClassroomIf you are like me and you reflect back to those first three years of teaching you say to yourself ‘I had no idea what I was doing’.  Actually you probably did a lot better than me, but I was totally clueless.  My first year teaching was a total disaster.  I started a little later than most.  I worked as a Satellite Engineer for 5 years prior and then spent 2 years as the In School Suspension Monitor as I completed my education degree so I thought I had some experience.  At least more than students who were just out of college and trying to teach High Schoolers who they were just 5 or 6 years older than.  Nope! No advantage at all.  I had no idea what I was getting into.

Here is my experience.  When you graduate from college you have a good degree and all the theory that they can offer you.  You know your subject.  You know how to create a lesson plan.  If you were at a good school you probably took public speaking and some introductory psychology.  You know how to present and how the brain works.

Then you got into the classroom and realized that no one taught you classroom management, time management, and most of all…how to survive.  You were supposed to be a shepherd leading their flock.  Instead you were a sheep in a room full of wolves.

Ok Ok I am over exaggerating, that is what I do.  I think you get the point.  So how did you learn?  You used your classroom as your practical experimental lab.  You tried different things out to see what worked and what didn’t.  You threw out the bad and kept the good.  Now you are a pretty good teacher.  So what to do with that knowledge?

You could become a college professor.  Many teachers do very well after 10-15 years of teaching, obtain their PHD and teach another 10-15 years, qualify for their retirement plan (it is not a pension plan anymore people) and then hit easy street as a college professor getting both a professor salary and your retirement.  Easy life right?  YES!  But it is not for me.

I use my classroom as a lab to see how students learn, when they learn, and how to influence them into believing in themselves.  However I am not writing a PHD Dissertation.  I am building my library of what works and applying it to building a network of educational sites – yes including this one.

I am not teaching to earn a salary.  I am teaching to learn how people learn.  Then I am applying it to the world and helping people achieve their goals in life.  One of the ways I teach people is how to make an independant living online.  I never encourage people to quit their job, especially one that they love.  I love teaching and it will be a tough day when I finally quit.  On one hand I will be happy that I have made my own living and my self generated income far outweighs any income I can generate online.  However I will also be sad that I have to give up teaching.  I love interacting with the students, watching that proverbial light bulb go off in their head when they get something.  The realization after a year of learning when they get to the state exam and it is easy is a huge payoff.  But so is a large paycheck earned by helping other achieve large paychecks.  That time is near for me.  This year I am going to really pay attention closely to make sure my students are both learning what they need to learn, but also how they are doing it, what is working and what is not.  I will be using my classroom to learn myself, not for a paycheck.

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