This post is part of “DigiLit Sunday,” hosted by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. This week’s topic is INTENT
“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”
These words echoed throughout the rooms at the Sable Oaks Marriott in Portland on Saturday. Teachers from around New England and beyond gathered to learn from superstar educators Ralph Fletcher, Tom Newkirk, Vicki Vinton, Kathy Collins, Matt Glover, Jeff Anderson, and Katie Wood Ray, among others.
At the end of a panel discussion about a trip to the Italian school Reggio Emilia and the book which grew out of that trip, The Teacher You Want to Be: Essays about Children, Learning, and Teaching, Kathy Collins invited us to complete this statement: The teacher I want to be…
Here is my response to Kathy’s appeal:
I want to be a teacher who grows passionate, joyful, independent learners. A teacher who, in the words of Thomas Dewey, gives students “something to do, not something to learn; and when the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results…”
I want to my students to be curious and observant.
I want them to be thoughtful readers who understand that reading is about more than answering questions about the main character and his problem. I want them to understand that when we read, we learn about ourselves, our lives, the lives of others, and the world around us.
I want to be a teacher who gives my students time to think and write about what they want to think and write about. I want to give them the time and tools they need to follow their thinking wherever it leads them.
I want my classroom to be a greenhouse where students thrive and see possibilities in themselves they hadn’t ever imagined.
I also want to be a teacher who can rise above the day-to-day frustrations that could distract me from this goal.
I want to be a teacher who doesn’t let demands and pressures of the inevitable changes in standards, assessments, etc., deter or sway me from this vision. In the words of Katie Wood Ray, I want to make myself “as smart as I can be about my work so that I can articulate” my beliefs.
This vision is one I’ve strived to fulfill through all my years of teaching. Thank you to all the wise, passionate educators at NERA whose words helped me express these ideas. Thanks to them for also showing me how this vision can become a reality.