Written by Mrs. Denning, Upper Team Teacher
“Fake it ’til you make it.” It’s a phrase I heard repeatedly during my college days, and I have heard it throughout my career, as well. I definitely agree that you can’t always wait until you’re completely confident with something before you give it a try; after all, a lot of things would just never get done! However, simply moving forward when you don’t understand will not increase your understanding or your confidence.
The past few years as a Horizon teacher have truly pulled me out of my comfort zone and into new waters. I could have followed the instincts of my personality, continuing along quietly without admitting what I don’t understand or avoiding situations that require me to try something new. Instead, I have chosen to give my all in learning new methods of teaching reading, spelling, math, and writing. Anytime I’ve hit a snag, I’ve reached out to the resources provided for me. What I’ve found is that the more I ask questions, the more knowledge I receive and the more confidence I gain. Instead of stumbling along as I would if I were “faking it,” I am successfully using my newly acquired methods, and my students are benefitting.
When I set my pride aside and admit what I don’t know, it opens up opportunities to learn and grow. This is precisely what I want my students to understand and learn for themselves. I know there are a lot of reasons students may not ask questions when they don’t understand. Perhaps they are shy and don’t like speaking in front of others; maybe they’re worried that teachers or other students will think they’re stupid; or possibly they feel they’ll look like “teacher’s pet.” My goals are to help students understand the importance of asking questions and to create an environment where students feel comfortable doing so.
I encourage students to raise their hands and ask questions anytime they need help or more information. I also expect students to respond politely when their classmates take advantage of this opportunity. Furthermore, I am open with the students, letting them know that, although I am a teacher, in many ways I am still a student myself, learning through mentors who answer my questions when I don’t understand or am unsure what to do. I try to emulate the mentors who have helped me grow the most. I want my students to see me as approachable and as someone who will give kind, constructive feedback. Most of all, I want my students to develop the skill of asking questions and seeking support so that they learn and grow to their fullest potential. I truly believe this is a key skill that will help them be successful in their schooling, their careers, and in life in general.