Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Good Teacher

I am a first-year teacher. Over the course of the year I have discovered the following. Correct me if I'm wrong.

1) the absolutely most important thing in any school are the kids;
2) each child has his or her own needs, - academic, social, or emotional - all of which must be addressed in different ways for every child;
3) the good teacher doesn't just pay lip-service to caring for children; he or she realizes that sometimes the academics have to take a backseat because the well being of the child comes before anything;
4) the good teacher must balance the multiple demands of the School system with the very real, very every day, very down-to-earth needs of children.

Being a teacher is not limited to pedagogical theories. It's a hands-on, practical art. I care for whole people, not brains on a stick. These little people are the important thing. Everything else - including curriculum, expected practices, demands of principals, etc - is secondary to what the child needs. And, in my opinion, the best person in the school for knowing what a particular child needs is a good, caring teacher.

You can't generalize the needs of people because eventually you're going to have to apply these generalizations to particular people. And it's not going to work. Teaching needs to be adapted constantly. We deal with particular circumstances and particular people. We must have the space and freedom to say "I understand what the theories say, but right now, it's not doing any good for this or these kids".

I am a good teacher because my focus is always the child. I wish I could say the same about the school system.

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