- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
Teaching is truly a calling. There is a part somewhere deep inside of teachers that make them a teacher. It collects, learns and synthesizes what is best for kids. The research, methods and strategies are only proven tools that allow the heart of the teacher to have these tools use as a vehicle to teach. Companies and government, board members and society have told us how to teach. They have dictated "good" and "bad" practices. They have proclaimed what works and what does not work. But teachers implement these strategies. Teaching is an art and we know teaching.
Teachers bring themselves to a classroom. Their experiences, knowledge, and passions intermingle with the experiences, knowledge, and passions of their students. William Arthur Ward stated, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." It is easy to get lost on the path of regulations, curriculum, paperwork and methods. But teachers know what works with their children and we are doing it every day.
The education system continues to learn, as it should, from experience. Good teachers tell and explain concepts to students. This has been a common practice for years in education. The materials are provided by the school system, purchased from a company and simple to find. Good teachers use their time to educate themselves on content already available. And students learn. But teachers have also learned. We are moving from a teacher centered classroom where the knowledge is dispensed from one in charge to a student centered classroom where the knowledge is shared by all. There is a shift from the mediocre or good classroom to more.
Shifts are hard and come at varying paces. Experience, knowledge, confidence, and support, or lack of support, from administrators all work together to make changes in education possible. They can also work together to stagnate change. Superior teachers bring hands on inquiry to the classroom. This process requires teachers to gather not only knowledge, but materials. Superior teachers use their time to learn about their content, find meaningful exploration for students and gather (or sometimes even buy) all the materials students will need for success. Students are exploring and thinking through processes. The demand placed on the teacher is increased, but the learning experienced by the student is increased as well. This shift in education has brought real life situations to students and their thinking. There is a push beyond this though for even more learning.
Because it is a work of the heart, teachers do more. Great teachers inspire. Pushing beyond the demands of inquiry learning, great teachers provide opportunities for differentiation in the classroom and have a learning environment where all students get what they need. This is an exhausting task, but we do it because we know it works. We know it is what all students need. We know it is what real learning looks like. And so we dedicate the hours beyond the contract day to get to know students, make personal connections, provide extensions to activities and re-teach content. Great teachers give of themselves to exhaustion so their students will get to do what they are inspired to do. This is not in a neat, formatted lesson plan. It is messy and creative and loving work. But it is done by great teachers every day because we know it is what our kids need.
I have spent the summer in reflection. During my "break" I have attended 4 different professional development opportunities, directed a STEM camp, provided in-service for over 300 other educators in my state, networked with over 20 educators across the nation, and found my center again. Athletes need breaks from training and succeeding after a marathon or major event. Executives get a bonus and celebration after completing an important project. Teachers need a break.
I am not alone. Many teachers continue working during the summer. Some take second jobs, some renew their certification, some teach educators, some reflect. But to go back and do the work in the fall. To explain, demonstrate, and inspire, we know what we need. Reflection is part of any learning process and this strengthens our teachers. We step back and regroup and center because we know the importance and value of this step in learning.
Because we know learning, we see the whole. Teachers who have exhausted themselves in May will go back to classrooms in August renewed. We will be able to do the work that is needed. We will be able to inspire. We will do what we know.