Rule 2 For Elementary School Teachers - Teaching is All About Learning
Aug 29, 2009 Young Learners 1862 Views
How did someone like me end up an educator with a book on the rules of teaching and learning? It's really only natural. I have always been a student and even now at the ripe age of 92 (if you count principal years like dog years), I am still a student both formally and informally. I study the schools I'm at, attend classes and academies, participate in online learning, forums and podcasts and go to conferences. I learn from students, parents, teachers and colleagues. I have an open heart, open hand and open door.
Being fully open to learning allows you to be an expert teacher because you will continue to grow, change and evolve as a person. This quality allows you to reflect on and improve your practices but it's not as easy as it sounds. To truly be a learner it's necessary to examine yourself, your ideas, theories and practices. It's important to recognize that if you're a learner you don't know everything, can't know everything and need to critically question what you think you know and what you actually already do.
The passion for teaching must be a passion for learning. It is work of the heart as well of the mind. This is what I call open heart and open hand learning. An open heart desires expansion, change, growth. A flat open palm can receive or release. It does not grasp, hold on to or close itself off to possibilities or ideas. When these two things include an open door, whether it is a metaphorical door you can create the best conditions for your learning and thus the learning of others.
Your real learning begins when you are teaching in your own classroom. Academic programs prepare you with the theory but your own classroom is reality. It's one of the reasons reality shows have captured the imagination of the masses. There isn't anything more compelling than a real life drama. There is no script but there are strategies. Successful strategies include that you:
Learn about your school's history, mission and future vision
Know your community: parents and guardians, students, colleagues and support systems
Understand how to collaborate with everyone and add value through your unique contributions
Integrate standards, the approved curriculum and the best methods for teaching
Embrace training and action research opportunities
Reflect on what's working and what needs improvement or change
The best teachers are students of learning who constantly search for answers to every individual situation presents itself concerning helping students to succeed. Decide now to take complete responsibility for every student you serve. This means you don't get to make excuses. You can't blame students or their circumstances. you must fully commit to every child's success.
I wish someone had told me this when I first started teaching. When I think back on my first year class I'm embarrassed to think about how badly I failed some of my students. There was one child in particular that received several F's. Would you believe in that first year I thought he was the one that failed? It wasn't until later, when I had more experience and training that I could reflect back and admit I had not taken full responsibility. I was under the impression that because I taught something, my student should have learned it. I had not yet reached a point where I evaluated myself and my teaching based on my students' achievement results. Instead I evaluated the student, found him wanting and gave him the grade that he "deserved." I should have given myself an F.
Promise yourself to keep searching, learning and growing. Be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of being an effective learning leader by constantly examining and reflecting on your practices. Celebrate your success and admit and learn from your failures.