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C'est la Z

Not every lesson has to be magic

If you check out Twitter, Facebook, Medium and other blog sites you might get the idea that you're the worst teacher in the world. The internet abounds with people sharing tweets and posts about wonderful lessons they've just taught, witnessed or learned about in professional development. Sure, the teacher forums rife with requests for lesson ideas and resources but the shared material is always aces.

It makes sense, people in the community want to share things that worked for them or things they think will work.

Still, for new teachers it can create an unhealthy illusion of what really goes on in the classroom.

This is not to say that sharing of the good stuff is a bad thing but the truth is that not every lesson is a masterpiece, not every teacher is a super charismatic showman, and not all topics lend themselves to creative teaching.

Why am I writing this now? Because I was planning lessons earlier today and I'm at one of those places where I'm not going to be able to deliver a whiz-bang lesson in my next class. One of my classes this semester is for beginners so we're building up language skills from the ground up. Right now I want to do some loop applications but there's only so much we can do given what the students know. There are reasons why I don't want to do graphics with them right now. I also haven't introduced lists yet and don't want to loop over strings yet so I'm left with doing mathy stuff.

I think I'll look at Newton's method for square roots. It's interesting for the math inclined and does let us explore issues with floating point and accuracy.

It's not going to be super exciting for everyone though and that's okay.

I could do lists first but I don't want the kids to have to handle so much new material so quickly. I'd rather keep the pace slower and work with what they've just learned for a bit.

I could also do graphics but that adds a level of overhead I don't want to get into now.

The idea is to look at the long game. A class runs a whole semester or possibly a year. You're going to have some special memorable lessons and some mundane ones and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

We're still mostly going to see best practices shared online with only a few brave souls sharing disaster classes and asking for help. That's just how the internet works. It's not the worst thing in the world. Just remember when you're struggling to come up with a good lesson or you've just taught a bad one that tomorrow's will be better. Judge yourself by your students long term development, not one day at a time.

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