Nine and a Quarter Years
By now, we’ve all heard of the 10,000 hours idea. In case you live under a rock, the gist of it is that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become expert at anything. This idea is more of a guideline than a rule, but basically: If you want to be an expert at something, you have to spend a lot of time working really hard at it.
Tonight, I was working with a bunch of other teachers at the TFA office, and I said to someone “My reasons for wanting to teach next year are mostly selfish. I just want to be good at teaching.”
I fully stand by that statement. I want to get to a point where I can look anyone in the eye and say “I am a good teacher.”
Am I a good teacher right now?
Right now, there are some things that I do well. I’m good at thinking up centers activities that will be the right level of rigor for my kids. I’m good at writing unit plans and keeping track of all the moving pieces involved in that.
There are a plethora of things I have improved at. I have gotten better at classroom management. I have gotten better at being consistent with rewards and consequences. I’ve gotten better at planning out instructional routines. I’ve gotten better at recognizing when my students need a brain break and providing that. I’ve gotten better at keeping everything I need for a lesson organized, so I’m not scrambling to find it as we go.
There are areas where there’s still plenty of room for improvement, like building relationships with students and making sure that everyone finishes all of their work and being up to date on my gradebook and being up to date on my data and finishing my intervention paperwork and remembering every meeting and I should probably wipe down the tables in my room and and and and and.
Anyway. 10,000 hours. I’m at school for eight and a quarter hours per day by contract, 10 by necessity, and we have six hours of instruction every day. So I’m devoting six hours per day to deliberate practice, trying to get to the point where I can say I’m a good teacher. Six hours times 180 days of school is 1080 hours per school year. 10,000 hours/1080 hours per school year is nine and a quarter years of teaching to become an expert at this.
I guess the good news is that I’ve already made it through a year and a quarter, so I have eight years left, and then, hopefully, I’ll be able to say that I’m a good teacher.