Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Good Teaching is Good Teaching

I consider myself a young educator. I have been a teacher and administrator for a total of 13 years - 8 of those as a middle school English teacher and 5 as a principal. I have worked in many different buildings and in two states. Every day I feel fortunate for the different experiences I have had, as these experiences, within different schools and in different roles, have led me to be the educator I am today.

In all of my experiences and my own learning, one thing has held true.

Good teaching is good teaching.

It doesn’t just happen at particular times or when a principal stops in the classroom. It isn’t focused on an observation. Good teaching happens any time of the day because it is focused on the kids.

Good teaching is facilitating, fostering a love for learning in a way that meets the child’s needs and interests. It is about the kids and their growth, their learning, their application, their desire to inquire. It is not about a score on an rubric or a test. It is not focused on an end-of-the-year benchmark. Good teaching empowers students to think for themselves, develop their skills at their pace, not the pace of what a standardized test says. Kids learn at different rates and with different tools, and good teaching celebrates this in our children. We celebrate all children, no matter what their background or learning style. Our responsibility is to all children, and this is why we do what we do.

You see, I believe in learning.

Every child can learn.
There are no boundaries, no limitations on the power of learning.
We aim to instill a love for learning in children.
We want to allow students to ask questions, be inquisitive, seek answers, create, and collaborate.  
Good teaching fosters a belief in learning and exploring, not just completing a worksheet or reading from a textbook.
Good teaching is reflective, because none of us is perfect, and we should all aim for more and better the next day.
Good teaching is not about doing “what we have always done”, but it is tapping into the interests and abilities of those students sitting in front of you in that moment, and building from there.
Every child learns at different rates and in different ways, and good teaching understands this and allows that child to move at his/her pace, feeling confident and not compared with others around him/her.
Good teaching is the way this particular child needs to learn, not the way I was taught.

The world of accountability, rubrics, and standardized tests are not going away. But I am not going to allow this to rule what I do and how I do it. If we believe in learning, then we must rise above this and maintain good teaching, the way we know it needs to be done.

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