Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Don't decide on the teacher you want to be, show the teacher that you already are

Try this thought experiment* - I promise it's worth it:

Think of your three best teachers at school. No cheating by only thinking of one or two, you need three. Think hard. Ready? Ok- now hold them in your mind as equally as you can.

I am willing to bet money on the fact that all three are quite different. One might be really strict and never smile, another one might be goofy or always take an interest in you personally. Maybe one teacher stood on tables and used crazy props, another one always used textbooks but made the pages sing with their subject.

The one thing all these teachers will have in common is that you believed, 100%, that those teachers were completely true to themselves. If they were crazy, then they fully commited to the jump-on-tables moments. Those teachers who never smiled, NEVER smiled. But, regardless of personality, all those teachers were likey to be committed to your learning and understanding you as a person. There is something about authenticity and genuine regard for us as students that we find compelling and it's what makes us love our teachers.

Yesterday new TeachFirsters were sharing their fears with me about the coming September. So many of them are afraid that they are not the 'right personality' for a successful teacher. I try to explain that while there are things teachers learn that help us 'become' a good teacher mostly it's about finding how YOU want to teach and modelling to the kids why it matters and that you believe in what you are doing right to your core.

* Experiment is taken from Parker Palmer's writing. I'm not sure exactly which article but I expect it is in "The Courage to Teach". I use this experiment a lot.