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edu180atl: john burk 5.22.12

When I first started teaching, my world stopped at my classroom door. Venturing out beyond that door meant interacting with the uber-teachers around me who seemed so confident of what they were doing. Teachers who never found themselves with 20 minutes of dead time at the end of a lesson. I imagined these teachers in their mythic classrooms inspiring students to heroic feats of academic excellence with captivating lectures. I imagined students who were always focused on learning, never distracted by grades, gossip or other trivia. Of course, all of this was the exact opposite of my classroom, a swirling vortex of confusion, where my indecipherable directions could cause even the most capable student to lose confidence and be overtaken by uncertainty and grade anxiety.

Thanks to some incredible teachers who invited me into their classrooms and shared their own inner doubts and challenges with me, I came to realize that there are no uber-teachers. Instead, we are all just learners, struggling to make connections between ideas, trying to teach just a bit better than yesterday, all while fighting back the debilitating “impostor syndrome” that tells us we’ll never be good enough.

Through the edu180atl project, I’ve connected with countless learners and their stories of learning—stories filled with struggle and challenge, but also fulfillment and joy. These connections make me feel even more empowered to persevere through my own difficulties, and give me a great sense of gratitude.

John Burk (@occam98) is romantic scientist at heart. He is a co-founder of edu180atl, and looks forward to following the project next year from Delaware, where he will be teaching at boarding school. He blogs at Quantum Progress.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Stephen Kennedy #

    There is so much more irrationality in teaching — and in life — than it would seem. Romance and idealism become balanced by the need for order, lesson plans, and “classroom management.” It may well all be necessary for schooling to occur. I do wonder at times what is lost in the process, however. Thank you for a thoughtful reflection. I would love to hear you say more about that imposter syndrome we all experience. And best in your new setting.

    May 24, 2012

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  1. the edu180atl project and #180voices180stories « Toward Wide-Awakeness

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