The area I need to improve most in my teaching is my communication with parents. It's not something my principal can observe in the classroom, but it is one of my weaknesses as a teacher. I haven't made any concrete plans to "fix" myself in this area because it's not a constant hassle. Negative interactions happen maybe once or twice a year, so it's not an emergency situation.
I teach in a small town. Small towns have earned a somewhat idyllic "perfect place to raise your kids" reputation among, well, people who live in small towns. I did not grow up in a place like this, and after nine years of teaching here, I'm sorry to say that I still find myself in an adjustment period at times. The idea that so many people are constantly obsessed with others' personal lives is something I wasn't prepared for, and it still doesn't settle well. I thought I would be judged most on my efficacy as a teacher, but that's not the way it's been here. The simple solution to this would be to move and find a bigger district or city, but I'm married to a farmer, and farmland doesn't move. And there are things I love about my location. I can't imagine living in a city now that I'm spoiled by the sweeping expanse of our acreage. My morning runs usually lead me to the lake half a mile down the road where I get a private sunrise view every day.
The school is one of the main focuses of the community, which is a good thing, except when it isn't. Teachers are under a microscope and gossip runs wild. Most of the time this is harmless, but sometimes it's spiteful. I've never been able to handle it well. My defenses go up and my first instinct is to defend myself, and my penchant for sarcasm does not help. I've always thought of myself as a straight shooter because of my dislike for small talk and inane pleasantries, but I know it only adds to my reputation in town as someone who can be abrasive (I won't use the word they actually use since this is a teaching blog). I need to take deep breaths and think before responding to parents through email or conversation; treat it like any other act of revision before sending out a published copy. I need to think it through and consider that sometimes the best response is no response. I've always been a quick responder and decision maker, and this is one professional area where it is not serving me well.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.