I was told a few weeks ago that I would be teaching Advanced Placement students and for a moment I was excited, I would finally be teaching the better behaved students. Like Ravenclaws, these students would be more interested in learning. Then I pictured Ravenclaw students sitting in front of me and I imagined them asking me difficult questions, ones I couldn’t answer or didn’t know the solution to. I began to freak out. I was concerned that I would be seen as a fraud.
I admitted these feelings to a friend, who is the closest embodiment of these imaginary Ravenclaws I could find. She is the type of person who isn’t afraid to prove anybody wrong, including her wealthy corporate boss. She told me, “I think one of the best skills to teach is how to be wrong gracefully and address mistakes productively. Students who know how to constructively challenge an authority figure will be the valued employees who keep their bosses from making expensive mistakes. If you want it to be structured, you could have a procedure for disagreeing with you. It would be a great model for them to take with them and a good skill set to practice.” Valerie isn’t a teacher, but she understood, better than me, that these were skills students needed to be taught.
I had forgotten that it was natural for people to make mistakes. Students need to see a gracious response when they find the courage to correct an authority figure. Although this is a constant challenge, this was the reminder I needed to find the Gryffindor in me, be brave and get over the fact that I would make mistakes.
Anybody else concerned about the upcoming school year?