I-Thou-It – I

We teach who we are.

Parker Palmer

At first you have space for only one question – what am I going to do in this lesson? You might say, “What are we going to do?” But what you really mean is “what am I going to get them to do?” And the next day the same question, “What are we going to do?” And the next day and the next, until you think that the teacher’s most important task is to get students to do the things you want them to do.

This lasts a while as you figure out how to plan lessons and choose supplemental activities. You read the textbook and study the teacher’s manual and follow its suggestions and sometimes venture outside of your comfort zone and do a variation on the activity.

Then one day you try something different, maybe an activity that you created. And it works. At least, it seemed to help the students learn the material and be able to do something with it that they weren’t able to do before. They learned. And you helped them do it.

And you know that you are beginning to understand what helps student learning. Actually, that’s not completely true. You’re starting to figure out what helps your students learn.

And you’re hooked. It’s that pure joy when your students achieve their goals. When they are communicating, talking, laughing, using the words, phrases, sentences that you taught them. They’re communicating with each other – new information is being shared.

Some people think that because you’re a teacher you are noble and selfless, but you know that you need your students just as much as they need you. Maybe even more so.


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