When I teach....
My first job is to create a learning environment that students enjoy. I love learning something new, so education has always fun for me, except when I was learning nothing. Boredom is painful, so I work hard to avoid it. I don't want to receive it, nor inflict it on others. Once I find out what a student enjoys, what he or she enjoys, whether content or activity or energy, becomes part of our interaction.
My second job is to set high expectations for student achievement. I don't believe that kids say, "Man, I hope I fail this." Deep down, everyone wants to be successful, even if acting blasé about achievement. If I set the bar high enough, the high bar will be stimulating. When someone is motivated, he or she can achieve amazing things. It's a cycle that feeds on itself: achieving a challenging, motivating goal feels great, so we do it again.
My third job is to assure that my students and their ideas are treated with respect. This is so important because others' respect for ourselves and our thoughts builds our confidence, helps people take risks, makes it okay to not be perfect, but encourages us to try any challenge. Let me be a good bad example: I'm a terrible athlete, but my biggest enemy in that field is my fear of looking foolish and my belief that I will fail. I don't remember giving myself respect or getting from others for my ability in sports. Many feel that way about certain academic subjects. But respect for them and their ideas is essential to build confidence to try. Respect is the intervention that turns self-fulling prophesy into self-confidence and winning.
My fourth job is to expect from me the highest standards of instruction, coaching, and evaluation. Fortunately, I love prepping to teach. I love puzzles and mysteries, so figuring out how to get one or many students to "get it," to reach that "ah ha!" moment, I find FAScinating.
My fifth job is to show students how to use what they know and what they like to open doors that seem locked. I have tutored students who said not only "I cannot write," but also "I hate trying to write." However, if I turned the content of the paragraph to their interests (bugs, skateboard physics
, horses, surfing, rappers, ancient history
, the World Series, whatevah!), words flowed easily, descriptions showed depth of understanding through detail, ideas intrigued readers (oh, and BTW, the writer, too, was intrigued).
My sixth job is to prepare students to contribute their skills and knowledge to their communities, their workplaces, and their families. Learning is one of those things that grows as it is spread around. It doesn't get scarcer; instead, sharing brings satisfaction to the sharer as well as to those who were helped. Equally important, when learners see learning make a difference in the REAL world, learning becomes more intriguing.
My seventh job is to find my highest personal satisfaction in learning FROM my students. This is why teaching is really not a job for me, but a joy. I get so many ideas from my students. They astound me with their insights, move me with their caring and concern for others, make me laugh as often they as possible.
My eighth job is to develop in students a sense of intrigue and reverence for learning. Reaching this goal is easy if I have completed my other seven jobs; fascination with learning grows out of all the rest.