There is a LOT going on in our world today from ongoing conflicts to extreme violence to protests for various causes to controversial political decisions. In this environment, especially when your context only allows you to interact with your students once a week, it can be difficult trying to find the time and the words to discuss what’s happening to our world.
As a human being, I’ve never been interested in politics and although I have felt deep sadness at the violence that is committed around the world, I have never gotten involved in any way myself. It was not until the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. that I told myself I needed to do something, no matter how small. Why now? Well, now it’s something that is affecting my identity in several ways: as a woman, a Muslim, an American.
We Are Teachers is a website I’ve been following for a while. They provide tons of helpful articles on various teaching topics and they always add in a few humorous pieces, as well. For winter break, check out some of the images they put together to put a smile on educators’ faces:
These definitely made my break better and I look forward to seeing what WeAreTeachers has in store for 2017.
Check them out here!
I spent much of my childhood making my sister and our stuffed animals act as my students. I imagined myself a teacher to the extent that I kept a grade sheet on each animal (and my sister, when she complied). I’m pretty sure that not every student passed my class.
Now, half of my 5th year of teaching is complete and although my dreams of writing on chalkboards (or whiteboards) and grading papers have been accomplished, there are always so many things to continue reflecting on as I continue teaching.
At the beginning of the summer of 2016, I was questioning my role in my current profession. I was wondering if I was cut out to be a coach and if I even wanted to stay in this context of religious education, which can be difficult in itself. After several tough, yet enlightening conversations, I was able to come to the realization that it wasn’t the job I wanted to leave, it was the lack of trust and genuine relationships at work.
When we discuss the time that children spend on various things in their lives, we often recognize that they spend much of their time at school interacting with teachers, other staff members and peers. Likewise, adults spend a lot of their time at work (oftentimes, even more so than kids do at school). This is an interesting point to note because we don’t often consciously think about this fact and how much it affects who we are as people and the fullness of our lives as individuals.
I recently read Jim Knight’s Focus on Teaching which explains how to use video as a way of enhancing instruction. In my team, we’ve been having sporadic discussions on videotaping our lessons to be able to reflect in more depth about our teaching practice. The book helped me better understand how to use video and go beyond simply recording and watching.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a classroom. Students can cause issues for various reasons, the pedagogy just won’t work with a certain class, technology fails on us or we forget supplies we need. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed as I work with other teachers and reflect more deeply about my own practice is that a lot of issues within any classroom space can be resolved if you know where you’re going. By this I mean that, as a teacher, we need to know what it is that our students should achieve by the end of the lesson, unit and school year. We should fully understand the content and we should know why it’s important and relevant to the lives of our students. After all, if we don’t know these things, then how will our students learn them?
While speaking with a colleague a few weeks ago, we got into a discussion about what it takes to be a good teacher. Obviously, there’s no list of characteristics floating around the world that tells us everything we need to achieve as educators. We began wondering if, within our own school system, we could create something which would enable us to work towards a defined list of things a teacher in our system should aim for.
While this process will take time, effort and lots of thought, I’ve been thinking on my own about what it means to be a good teacher. There are many, many articles and books and websites dedicated to creating the best teacher but how helpful are they? With the diversity of classrooms, students, contexts, and curriculums, can one list ever suffice for every educator no matter where they are? I don’t think so, but I do think that there are some characteristics that might be more generalizable than others.