Common Teacher Mistake #7 — Overconfidence.
This is one that particularly applies to new TFA teachers. I was a victim of this myself, back in the day, and the fact that it’s still a prominent issue makes me worry that TFA contributes to building that overconfidence.
You know the famous Western movie cliche “It’s quiet out there — Too quiet.” There are some CMs for whom the summer school experience is easy — too easy.
It might be easy because you’re just that good, but there are other reasons possibly. It’s important that you consider those other possibilities since if you just rely on the ‘fact’ that you are a natural born teacher and that wasn’t the reason for your success, then you will fall flat on your face, not close any achievement gaps, execute ineffectively, etc.
One question to ask is how many students are in your class right now, and how many will you have when you start really teaching? As you add students, the difficulty grows (as we say in the math world) ‘quadratically.’ This means that 20 kids are 4 times as difficult to teach as 10 and that 30 kids are 9 times as difficult as 10. So if you’re a rock star with 10 kids, be careful on what conclusions you draw from that.
I don’t know if TFA makes this point strong enough. I think they would be taking a risk if they reminded people too much about this since then they would open themselves up for criticism, like “Well, then why am I teaching just 10 kids? Why don’t you create a model where I’m able to teach 30 and get real practice in?” I don’t know how they do or don’t address the issue. Maybe someone who is currently training can comment and let me know.
Another thing that you should remember is that the summer school is so short that you barely make it out of ‘The Honeymoon Period’ This is the two or three week time period where kids act relatively good. Whether they’re being nice and giving you a chance or whether they are studying you to find weaknesses to exploit, I don’t know, but there is a honeymoon period. Even in my awful first year (You can read about it in ‘Reluctant Disciplinarian’ — shameful plug) my students we very well behaved for a few weeks.
Anyway this rant was inspired by a blog I read (people hate when I single out a blog by someone who is just trying to learn, but I really need to give a concrete example) magicschoolbus blog