Wednesday, September 08, 2010

With high stakes tests always at the forefront of teachers' minds, it is not a surprise when some lose sight of what school IS, or at least, OUGHT to be about. We often get caught up in the mindset of "Don't smile before Christmas" and "School is for learning not fun" modes, and forget one of the fundamental 3 R's of education: rigor, relevance, and RELATIONSHIPS.
Without building a relationship, a positive, strong relationship, with our students, for many of them, the rigor and relevance of our curriculum will be lost. Not only will they shut down, refusing to entertain even the most engaging of lessons, they will likely become our worst nightmares, as far as behavior issues go.
For some teachers, building relationships with students comes easily, naturally. They honestly enjoy the age group they stand in front of each day. Conversations flow naturally, good natured joking is a two-way street, and soon, even the most reluctant learner has braved the educational waters of that teacher's curriculum.
In other classrooms, forced congeniality is the standard. While it is often obvious students and teacher are not always on the same page, a mutual respect and tolerance develops, allowing learning to take place. These teachers may just not be 'natural' born teachers, not having the knack to interact effortlessly with their clientele, but through careful deliberate planning on their part, the gap is successfully, or at least adequately bridged. Students develop a respect for these teachers, and while may never vote them their 'favorite' come to learn how to be successful behaviorally and academically.
Sadly, in a few classrooms, it is obvious the teacher has no interest in the students, personally or beyond that test score. Their interactions are limited and forced, leaving a hgue divide. Students are disruptive, afraid, intimidated, or simply unable to learn in this environment. These are the classrooms, the teachers, that make me wonder if anyone CAN be a teacher, or are some of the traits inherent that allow for successful teaching. Can we create an effective teacher from one without those natural tendencies? Can those individuals be taught the interact with their students in manner that allow them to be successful? I don't know the answer....


Di Di Ross said...

You have touched on my biggest fear as I seek my teaching license. I am not afraid of lesson planning or dealing with administration and parents. However, I worry that I will not be able to connect with my students. I do not want "forced congeniality" in my classroom. I want students to feel comfortable enough with me to be themselves, but without sacrificing the necessary level of respect needed to efficiently manage a classroom.

I have come to the conclusion that perhaps my best bet when I begin teaching is to simply be myself. If I can accept who I am without fretting over how wonderful the teacher next door is, then perhaps my students will learn to accept themselves as well.

cossondra said...

You have the perfect attitude to be the perfect teacher - the one who connects easily with almost every student who walks in the door. If you are YOU, and you honestly love your job and your kids, things will be wonderful in your classroom. I hope that as you become a teacher, you will also blog your experience and share with us!