Teachers, “It Takes One to Teach One!”

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Author: Jeromie Heath is a 10th year elementary teacher.  He has taught 1st-5th grade in Virginia and in Washington. He has been featured in local media (newspaper, news, journals, and tv) for his unique an innovative ideas on engaging students and customizing instruction to meet their needs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YwReY_o7SU). He more recently received became a NBCT.  He has helped to write district curriculum for Science and is currently piloting the new NGSX standards for elementary Science. He is always trying to find ways to share his ideas with other teachers – and has a website that offers ideas, materials, and resources that he thinks leads to student success: https://sites.google.com/site/mrheathfunteacher/home

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It takes one to teach one.

What does that mean?

Essentially, I’m suggesting that we take a moment every day to remember why we teach.  To remember why we do it.  To embrace the magic and the wonder that we instill in our students each time we teach them something new.  To pretend, to sing, to use our imaginations, to be a character, to be silly, to be spontaneous, to laugh, to jump up and down, to essentially see the world through the eyes of your students. To be a kid.

Has it been a while?  How long has it been since you thought of that initial dream of becoming a teacher?  You had a dream once – when you made the decision that teaching was for you.  Sometimes the warm glow of that initial moment fizzles after the years, but it doesn’t have to.

Just stop.  And think.

Remember.

Why do you teach?

I will only spend a moment saying that – yes – we have a ton of stress. We have schedules, and testing, and meetings, and forms, and documents, and trainings, and conferences, and emails, and more meetings, and pacing guides, and pressure, and data tracking, and meetings (you can tell which one I like the least) – but through all of this you can remember and embrace that dream you once had.

Why do you teach?

When those stresses get to you, take a moment and remember – why do you teach?  Look at your students.  This is their childhood. This is their time to learn, grow, explore, and experience life.  They are full of innocence and wonder.  Through all the stresses of teaching, we sometimes forget that our students…are….kids.  They laugh. They play. They love singing. They want to be famous. They want to play video games. They have passions. They have dreams of their own.  We sometimes forget this and get lost in the ‘hub-bub’ of teaching.  But during your lesson of long division, just pause and look at them.

And remember why you teach.

Engagement doesn’t necessarily mean ‘entertain’ or ‘keep them busy’…it could mean, ‘intrigue’ and ‘envelop’ a student in their learning.  Engagement could mean to instill a passion or a curiosity.   They want to learn. They do learn. They by nature are always learning – but they can learn more. How? Just stop.  And remember….what did you like when you were a kid?

What is your favorite and lasting memory of being a student? Was it a textbook? A worksheet? Not for me. It was a game of boys vs girls and we won! It was a time when we returned from recess and found leprechaun ‘poop’ on our desks (mint chocolate). It was a science fair project that I nearly didn’t finish on time, but won a medal.  The things I remember most involved an ‘experience’.  When you ask me about a memory, I think of things that involve imagination, play, friends, or something I achieved.  What about you? Remember.  What was it that sticks out to you? Was it a worksheet?

I’m not suggesting you change a thing in your pedagogy.  I’m not suggesting that you throw out textbooks or worksheets.  I’m not suggesting you change a thing in your approach, your materials, or your methods.

Here’s what I am suggesting…to remember.  What did you like when you were your students’ age?  What excited you? What made you laugh? What made you happy?  Remember.  Why do you teach? What’s the reason you began teaching?

It takes one to teach one.

What does it mean?

Essentially, we get the unique chance to be a kid every day. To live our lives through the eyes of our students.  To see how innocent minds develop as they learn new ideas.  To truly connect with young people as they learn about the world around them.  Our students give us the gift of reminding us of a time when we loved to pretend, or sing, or read chapter books, or play a math game.  We see our students having fun and enjoying life, and in turn we get to remember…and live that moment with them.

Why do you teach?

My answer: I get to be a kid for the rest of my life.

What’s your answer?

 

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