Friday, October 7, 2011

The Hand on the Shoulder

Over the years of teaching, I kept looking over my shoulder.  I half expected to feel a hand there, and a voice saying, “Hey, I know you!  What are you doing here as a teacher?  Why, you don’t know what you are doing….”  Then I would be dragged out of the classroom, to the dismay and amazement of my students.

I did know what I was doing.  I did know everything was based on standards and learning principles.  

 What I was depending on was the creativity to bridge the gap from the standards dictated by law to how my students would learn them.  So much depended on what I saw in the student, how I could take that and use it, and return it to him as a learn-able product.  Basically, I was teaching “on my feet”.  Thinking quickly.  Grabbing ideas out of the air. 

But, then, I think we all do that whatever the job or calling.  Parents do it all the time.  We get this tiny crying baby, and go with the flow.  We understand diapers and feedings, no problem.  

 But, what to do when all sorts of things happen, well, that is a gray area.  What do we do when our seven-year old daughter gives sassy, eye-rolling comments?  What do we do when one child lies, out-right lies to us?  What do we do when we break up a sibling fight, where the clarity is non-existent?

Some would grab the video camera, film it, and send it to America’s Funniest Videos.  

 Maybe they will win $10,000.  

 Or, maybe we parents have to think “on our feet”.  Do we rely on what our parents did in similar situations?  In some cases, oh-please-God-help-me, no we don’t.  In others, perhaps we do.

Maybe we all live this way, looking over our shoulder, waiting for someone to tell us that we don’t know what the heck we are doing.  But, I think that at this point, I can shrug off the hand, and say, “Wanta bet?”


  1. We gain confidence as we move along...winging it. That's what I've done all my life, wing it. Free forming. Usually our instincts are right.

  2. First instinct is usually the best one, least as far as I've found, never 100% right, but usually the most accurate.

  3. Raising four children, I had little time to think as things were coming at me all the time. Although I know I made some mistakes along the way, I always tried to do my best. That is all that we can ask of ourselves.

  4. Oh I just went through this this morning (the eye rolling thing!) I think this is such a great post! sums up how we all feel at some point.
    Blessings, Joanne

  5. As Joanne says, "a great post," Susan. I've not been a parent, but I have been a teacher and for me, most of teaching was done "by the seat of my pants."

    As curriculum developer and nun and editor and writer and human being and sister and aunt, I have often felt that someone was lurking behind me--or at my side--waiting to say, "Just who do you think you are?" This must be, I think from reading your posting, a common thing among all of us who try to do our best.



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