28 March, 2012

Teacher as Actor

If it's possible to lose your sanity multiple times in one day, that's what I experienced today. I am required to use Rosetta Stone, so is the other Spanish teacher. This is convenient for the other teacher as he is actually a music teacher. We are required to have universal midterms, meaning the same in all of our foreign language classes. So I designed a midterm that students can take on Rosetta Stone.
It's differentiated.
It uses technology.
It gives immediate feedback.
It's also a nightmare.
We use HP laptops and the most affordable pairs of headphones possible. Though I've picked up a lot of troubleshooting skills this year, I'm not great at fixing laptop/headphone issues, especially not 34 of them at once. I felt like my entire day was spent toying with computers, not helping students. This is not what I signed up for. To be fair, I do a lot of things I didn't sign up for: I am a disciplinarian, a counselor, an advisor, a tutor, all the things all good teachers try to do, and now I'm also an untrained, impatient computer technician.
The problem with this extra responsibility is that it is obvious to the students that I am frustrated or overwhelmed. I lose patience and calm quickly and am not as nice and helpful and caring as I'd like to be with my students. I can't fake my abilities with them, and all of my energy and acting skills go towards pretending I believe this software program is the best way for them to learn.
There's a lot of talk about revamping teacher training programs. Maybe they should include more theater classes to prepare teachers for days like this.