Dear Claire,

Late last week, I tweeted this:

The tweet itself got a couple thousand views and led to some good conversations last week and that weekend.

Which is kinda what I’m talking about. I think…

I think I’m a better coach than a teacher.

That’s a weird thing to be sheepish about.


That Sunday, I went to the EdTech Team’s High Desert GAFE Summit to present on stuff. It went great. People commented about how helpful it was, how great that I’m back in the classroom since I’m so energetic and engaging, and I even sold a few books while I was there.

Then today, I dragged two periods of freshmen through Graphing Stories and just… didn’t feel like a great teacher. Jack forgot his glasses, but insisted he got contacts this weekend. Katherine’s new seat in the middle of the room was a bad idea, since she can now distract everybody in the back half of class, and all of 6th period—despite being lovely as individuals—struggle to get through anything as a group.

In the gap since I was last a teacher, I’ve had my head in the theory of teaching, waxing rhetorically about the death of homework or reading books about the inclusion of students of color in meaningful ways or sharing ways to increase student voice and agency in the classroom (including this on Wednesday).

image: Ricardo Williams on flickr

image: Ricardo Williams on flickr

What a blessing to be an instructional coach and have the lowered stress level so I can dream about education outside of the four walls of a classroom, without worrying about the new seating chart that I promised them for Monday and didn’t even start yet and lunch ends in 12 minutes and dammit I still have to make copies and I haven’t even erased the board from Friday yet.

It’s easy to dream about big ideas, but some of the daily stuff is kicking my ass.

And worse than that; I’m feeling like the stuffed-shirt, overpaid, abstracted Educator that presents at conferences about ideas s/he hasn’t tried.

I’ve sat in those sessions and rolled my eyes and murmured to my teammate, “Aw, he’s a consultant.”

What can s/he possibly know about real teaching?

“Babe,” says my wife. “You’re your own worst critic. Your class is probably a funner place to learn than other places on campus. Many of those kids probably just sit silently the rest of the day, but they get a voice in your room.”

While she may be right, I’m not convinced yet that I’m doing an excellent job. Every day is a risk (which doesn’t scare me) and I’m worried that I’m not as good a teacher now as I was when I left (which scares the hell out of me).

I’m curious to see what Wednesday’s Teacher Report Card results look like. Of course, I’ll post them here.

~Matt “No disrespect for subs. Your job is really hard.” Vaudrey