Thanks to Charles Blow for his column this past weekend (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/05/opinion/blow-teaching-me-about-teaching.html?smid=pl-share) to remind me that this week is teacher appreciation week. His mother is his inspiration.
Teachers who have passion inspire. They communicate their love of their subject to students and spark learning. Work is good. Ignite a fire. Discover your potential. Do what you do for love, yes love not money.
Ways that teachers inspire that are not taught in your teacher training courses:
- Have passion. Love what you are teaching and know your stuff. Share this passion with students.
- Explain why in detail and answer questions.
- Teach for understanding – don’t give up until you know students understand. This relates to explain “why.”
- Be supportive, kind and open to students. Make students feel good and they will want to learn. Open the door.
Blow’s column made me think back. Yes, to junior high and high school, and who were the teachers who inspired and who weren’t. The results were different from what I might have thought. I was not inspired by my music teacher, rather it was the art teacher who incited my creativity. It was the English teacher who allowed me the room to write and express myself. They contributed to whom I am as an artist, educator and human being. Later in my life as a life long student, there were professionals who inspired and motivated. Interesting to me is that it isn’t always the pedantic knowledge that inspires. That type of learning was available to me on the highest level. Imprinted in my memory though, is the man who inspired. He had the pedantic knowledge, but most of all, he taught humanity. He saw beyond the immediate to touch in a profound way. He had a way to get to your core. A lot of years have passed and he is gone, but I will never forget the lessons I learned. This man was truly a great teacher.
Those lessons show the power of great teaching. They are the reasons why passion is so important. One can have pedantic knowledge, but without passion no one will listen. So what are we teaching in our teacher training programs? Theory and practice in a logical and organized sequence. So who teaches passion? Can you teach passion? Where is the place for content knowledge and understanding and how much is enough to effectively teach? What Is “Elementary History Methods?” Or “Elementary Science or Math Methods?” Are these courses teaching in-depth subject knowledge? Do you think Elementary teachers don’t need to have in-depth knowledge about these subjects because the curriculum in Math, Science, English and History isn’t advanced? Is teaching a bit about everything the way to go? And on a secondary level, 24 credits in a course for highly qualified status? What does this amount of coursework teach?