Teachers are storytellers. As a teacher, as a woman, as a teacher who is a woman of color, who is also a descendent of Haitian immigrants, I think of the stories I tell. What story am I telling my students, my colleagues, my admin? What stories are being told based on my femininity, my blackness, my Caribbean-ness, my Martha-ness, which is distinct from my being Ms. St. Jean? What parts of myself am I carrying into the role, the classroom, and conversations? What parts do I purposefully, and many times unintentionally truncate? Now, as a co-teacher, I am seeing myself through another lens, I try to imagine myself through the eyes of another. I try to see myself through someone who may not share any other aspect of my identity except that person is also a teacher, and our common ground is the classroom.
This person becomes a mirror. A mirror of the good, bad, and ugly. There is no escaping. My words weigh more heavily. My flaws are magnified (at least in my mind!!!). Issues I did not know I had are bought to bear. Co-teaching, dear reader, is not for the faint of heart.
What has helped me this year is something someone once said during a class at Teachers College, Columbia University. There is this idea about the difference between noticing and judging. As I reflected on that, I could not help but think of relationships such as co-teaching. When you are with someone many hours of the day - you will notice many things, what you do with what you notice is your choice. Will I judge? Or will I work to make a connection? Judging cuts one off from connection. I am not saying it is never right to judge. No, not at all. We should have standards in society. I believe that there is right and there is wrong. There exists the moral and the immoral. There are times when you and I must make a judgement, this is different from judging a person, because I am calling out an action.
When I notice without judging, or when someone notices me without judging I am more likely to be myself. This also allows me to recognize my limitations and areas that need improvement without self or other condemnation. This awareness then allows me to change, because I do not feel judged for who I am, bringing me to a new level of not only consciousness but trust. And this trust dear reader, is the solid foundation of any good relationship.
Ms. St. Jean
Native New Yorker teaching and living the middle school life, using this site to keep it 100. My students are the embodiment of joy.