Right now, there’s a post floating around Facebook and Twitter that caught my attention. It’s a piece by Dennis Hong of Musings on Life and Love about teaching and the view that people who don’t teach have of teachers and their jobs. It’s called The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do. I appreciated the post because when people hear what I do, they always mention how great it must be to have summers off or to be able to leave at 3 everyday (this is such a myth, by the way).
I scanned through the comments on the post, and one got me thinking. The commenter suggested that teachers don’t need advanced degrees to be able to teach because teaching is intuitive and most of what needs to be learned about teaching can be learned in a two-week crash course. There’s a point the writer had me thinking about– whether it was intended or not: so much of teaching comes from within: the willingness to understand, the mindfulness, the choice to put in the time, etc. But where I disagree with the comment is the suggestion there is no need for an in-depth understanding developing brains and emotional development. The words I speak to children and lessons I teach are formed by my background knowledge learned in graduate school, through working with other professionals, and by the constant research I do on my own; all of these pieces come together, in addition to my classroom experiences, to drive my instruction.
As a teacher, I spend my days (and nights and weekends) figuring out the children I work with, finding creative ways to reach them, reading about new ways of teaching, and working on materials to engage and motivate them; they’re walking puzzles to be solved. Good teachers work so hard to see the child’s perspective, to reflect what might be hard for that child, and to apply their knowledge of child development to form lessons that teach the skills children need. The suggestion that all those skills could be packed into two weeks is a bit of a stretch.
Someone once told me that it takes 10,000 hours to be a master of a craft. I have devoted more than that to teaching when I add up the planning, reading, reflecting, professional development, and classroom hours accumulated over the last seven years, and I feel that I am nowhere close to being a master. The art of teaching well requires constant mindfulness and willingness to accept and change. There are a million ways to make learning better, and that’s a teacher’s quest.
Related: Teacher Rant