I read this blog post today and wanted to pass it along. Teaching is a job that , unlike doctors, lawyers and engineers, people assume they could easily do. They know what schools look like from personal experience and think that it doesn’t take much to accomplish the tasks required. And, if we do our jobs well, it can seem almost effortless. Classes run smoothly, with engaged students and peaceful teachers.
The complexity is often overlooked. I love this portion of the blog post:
“Teaching is simultaneously instilling in a child the belief that she can accomplish anything she wants while admonishing her for producing shoddy work…
Teaching is convincing a defiant teenager that the work he sees no value in does serve a greater purpose in preparing him for the rest of his life.”
We are encouraging dreamers and inventors. We are supporting creativity and passion. We are bringing light to dark spaces and opening doors to closed rooms. We are seeking to remove the boundaries that limit each student, whatever the original source, so that each one can be the best that he or she can be.
We have to meet our students exactly where they are and then build lessons that not only hold their interest but develop their understanding and ability. Sometimes, the purpose of the lesson is to simply practice necessary skills, but that has to be within a larger context that the students understand. We have to provide enough of the metacognitive framework to help them grasp why they are doing the work that we set before them.
Part of the challenge is to combine rigor and resilience with engagement and a love of learning. I find that I often build lessons that accomplish one or the other, but that the challenge is to create ones where students want to keep trying, even when they struggle at first, where the level of challenge matches the abilities and encourages involvement rather than creating discouragement!
Clearly a job not anyone can do without training, lots of practice, and a heart as big as it can be!