Guilty by Assumption!

We've all been there. If you sit back and think, you'll probably realize you were there sometime today. Where, might you ask? Why, being guilty of thinking someone else knows something you do.

It all started with me sending a link to a teacher today. Our mail program ended up adding a space and a period into the link, so the link did not work. This teacher asked me to look at the issue and I was able to see it right away. No, I didn't expect this teacher to notice this mistake. It's not something most people would notice anyway.

As it was, I was able to fix the URL she needed to visit and was able to work on a few other things with her, including some quick, just-in-time training on a web program we use in our district. She was amazed at some of the things that could be done, and, not having gone through the training myself, I was able to learn on my own. Then again, that's the way I learn many things: sit down, try it out, learn what does and doesn't work. Again, not something I would expect of others, as we all learn in different ways.

But after working with her on this quick training, I reminded her that this is part of what I was available to do for our staff. At least, I thought I was providing a reminder.

This teacher is new to our building but has been with our district a long time, and as so many of us have been guilty of, I assumed that she knew I was a half-time instructional coach, just as many other teachers assumed that she was aware of many rules, etc. in the building.

This got me to thinking about what I should be able to assume and what I should make sure to reiterate to both staff and students. Being a half-time math teacher and half-time instructional coach has led me to need to prioritize many things. Of course, my top priority is to the students of this district, and that priority has sometimes left me thinking of myself secondary (I have done better at taking care of myself more of late, but am still working on that front). When I am in my non-teaching time at school, I will drop whatever it is that I am doing if a student seeks help, regardless if they are in my class or not.

With that being said, I will first think about assumptions I have for my students. I assume they have mastered the curriculum in the prerequisite courses for the course they are currently in. I should be able to make this assumption with great confidence, but I also know there are students who move on regardless of prerequisites and teacher recommendations. But this is one assumption I will continue to make, with the caveat that I will offer extra help for those students who need it.

I will not, however, assume that my students can "do it all" with technology, as I have seen others do. Students are great with technology when it comes to entertainment and socializing. But what about when it comes to productivity and education? Do they know how to properly use cell phones and not disrupt others? Do they know how to find and evaluate a resource online? Can they create something new with various technologies with information they find? That's where I cannot make assumptions and have to make sure to provide the new viewpoint to my students and get them to embrace it, as well.

I cannot assume anyone else knows things that are second nature to me. I provide a variety of professional development opportunities for our teaching staff, but am restricted by time for preparation and meeting with them due to my schedule. I could use this time crunch as an excuse, or just rush through materials that I think my staff should already know, but that would make me highly ineffective. So I need to remind myself to move slowly, and if I don't get through everything I want to, then so be it. It will allow for better professional development and almost guarantee a higher level of implementation. Plus, it leaves them wanting more!

Too often in the world of education do we just think that others already know something we are so good at. I'm sure you hear it in the teacher's lounge. But we, as educators, need to remember that we are educators for a reason, and that is to share what we are so good at and get others to see themselves as good at it as well. In order to do that, we need to stop assuming and continue teaching.

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