Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Teachers and Dancing

In Five Things That Fred Astaire and Great Teachers Have In Common, Vicki Davis talks about how Fred Astaire and Teachers have a lot in common. She makes great points and I wanted to expand more about how these points, as great as they are, could scare new teachers and how they shouldn’t be afraid.

First she says, “They Make It Look Easy… It takes a long time. Lots of knowhow, experience and practice.” If you are new to teaching, don’t let this scare you but it is worth it all. In fact, it may never actually be easy but in time you will be able to make it look easy. You will know it paid off when you see the “lightbulb” go on in a child’s head as their faces light up when they grasp a concept. You will know it the first time a student or parent lets you know that you made a difference in their life. You will know it the first time that a colleague comes up to YOU for advice or to talk over a problem.

Both have “Deep Knowledge of Their Subject.” In the field of education, I feel it is a constantly evolving subject so teachers need to constantly seek a deeper knowledge of their subject. Don’t think that once you become a teacher that the learning ends. It is only the beginning. There will always be new techniques or strategies that someone is refining to enhance learning. Some you will agree with and some you won’t. But that doesn’t mean you should not learn what is out there being discussed about your subject. For many years I just read information but didn’t really internalize it or form an opinion about it. This is just as bad as not bothering to read it. By forming an opinion about something, you have to ask yourself why you agree or disagree with something. This may lead to further searching. I found out that I was a better teacher when I knew the current issues in education, what possible solutions or discussions were happening, and then decide how I felt about it. I became more aware of my own teaching and why I used certain strategies. I streamlined my teaching and stopped doing things that were not effective in helping the students.

“Enjoyment of the Dance…It’s what we are born to do.” At the beginning, you actually may not enjoy yourself but that doesn’t mean that you are in the wrong profession. In fact, the first six months after I moved to a new school, I would wonder if I had made the wrong decision to be there. There is an adjustment period that you will go through in every new situation (the amount of time is dependent on your environment, your support system, and yourself). The first few years of teaching you will still be finding your sea legs and learning the school procedures as well as learning the best way to teach so it will be tough. Don’t give up. Don’t throw away all that you have worked for to get to this point. I have seen too many teachers give up after a year or two and I want to tell them it is like going to a movie and missing turning point. They don’t get to the good part that makes it worth sitting through the whole movie.

“A Few Good Tricks” is important for all teachers. Your bag of tricks will grow as you gain experience. Sometimes you have to be patient with yourself and not expect to know all of the tricks at the very beginning. You will even surprise yourself when you find yourself doing a “trick” that you didn’t realize you were able to do. I would get so frustrated when I couldn’t be just like the experienced teachers! I still watch some teachers and wish I could teach just like them. Then I realize that this would be impossible because I have a different personality with different strengths. So I accept the way I am and teach the way I’m comfortable with since I know I am making a difference.

“Desire to Innovate” is important to a successful career. Don’t think that because you are new that you shouldn’t try new things. New teachers are what keep our profession alive. In fact, I have learned many neat things from my student teachers and teachers who are first year teachers. In discussions, feel free to mention neat things you are doing and how successful it was because teachers like me want to know more about this and see how we can adapt it to our class.
I really love Vicki’s last comment which really hits home for me, “You've got the most noble calling on earth -- live like it!” In order for the community to take teachers seriously and treat us the way we should be treated, teachers need to start acting the way teachers should act: with honesty, integrity, and nobility.
photo credit: Original image: '039_64199'


Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher said...

I love what you add to this post. Such great points and thoughts. I love how you point out that it could scare people off b/c it looks easy. That is so true.

Also, the point about it being tough at the beginning. That is something I hadn't even thought to mention. My first year was really pretty horrible!

Thank you for sharing great insight and being such an encouragement to me personally. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Excellent points! We watched Top Hat this week---the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers classic---and enjoyed it thoroughly. I would add this: Dancing alone can be great, but dancing with a partner is magic. And when you hit one of those "Aha!" moments where the lightbulb goes on, the give-and-take between the minds of teacher and student(s) can be magic, too.


loonyhiker said...

Vicki: Thank you for inspiring me!

loonyhiker said...

letsplaymath: Good point! I have learned many things from my students.