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Teaching is an ART. I truly believe that and it is through the slow ooze of experience, of classroom trial and error that one becomes a master teacher.

I'd like to share here, my own thoughts and ruminations on teaching, good teaching. I have many years experience and will leave some notes here for others who are following. Hopefully, after a few months, I'll collect for a nice presentation for beginning teachers.

The entries will be short, concise. Meant for others to think about , ponder and arrive at their own truth. Like a koan, like a parable, like an aphorism -- a thunderbolt of thought.


CLICK TO GET THE SHORT PRESENTATION OF THESE THOUGHTS  

 

Great for courses/teacher development and training. 

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#7 - Your only competitor is yourself

Every day we look around and feel we have to "keep up". Keep up to what? Too much of life and teaching is "flywheel" and not the real, simple substance. Why? We are keeping up and not thinking of "real" quality and learning. More more more usually equals less.

Do not look at your colleagues and think "what a poor teacher am I". Look at yourself and think - "what a better teacher I can become". The only competition is with what you could potentially become given your inner qualities. These qualities do not match any other teacher's. They are your own and unique. Treasure them, water them and let them grow without the noise of competition...... When you have mastered this, your students will also discover it.
I've just sent my youngest off to college, and I wish I could put that compass you've laid out into each of his teachers heads/ hearts : ) I'm going to email them, it can't hurt!

Ellen,

You don't need to put anything into their hearts. If you live it/be it -- they will also discover it (in time). I find that too often we think we have to be explicit in things when if we really absorb a quality into our nature - the others around us will (in time) grow to emulate that. Isn't it true that the best teaching is done in silence :)

David
I resisted the urge to send the emails : ) I haven't sent that kind of note to a teacher since my youngest was in 2nd grade, and it didn't work then, either! But I am a mommy, David, human mommies want, maybe even need to feel like we can make satellite nests for our children when they leave home. The need subsides, but while we are in the midst of it, others might as well just step back and appreciate the dynamic :))

Good advice, though, here and in #7. I am enjoying this thread very much.
Personally, I am fond of the old adage: teach, delight, and move!
Eric, So true! My advice also -- keep moving or in teaching that really means - "keep them guessing"!

#8 Plans are only as good as the strength of the willingness to abandon them.


Teaching entails planning. Especially thinking through the lesson delivery and content in terms of the student's vantage point. This is the main filter through which all lessons must pass to succeed. Yet, a plan is an ideal. The real world is messy. There are fire drills and bloody noses. There are lost notebooks and slow computers. There are absences and presents.

To succeed one must be willing to abandon, at any moment and at any time. It is the present which is the present and not its relation to the future. As you teach, teach in that moment. Your plans are only a map -- there are innumerable real and unmarked paths to reach your destination.

David
This teaching adage comes from a Latin phrase, that I've forgotten and just learned at an art museum show at the Getty center. Since it was used by during the counter-reformation by Catholic church, the advice was actually "teach, delight, and move the faithful."

Your focus on lesson flexibility seems smart. We have to build in flexibility - even in the best lesson plans. What's the expression? Man proposes and God disposes? If the word God offends, than switch it to "destiny" or "Nature".

ddeubel said:
Eric, So true! My advice also -- keep moving or in teaching that really means - "keep them guessing"!

#8 Plans are only as good as the strength of the willingness to abandon them.


Teaching entails planning. Especially thinking through the lesson delivery and content in terms of the student's vantage point. This is the main filter through which all lessons must pass to succeed. Yet, a plan is an ideal. The real world is messy. There are fire drills and bloody noses. There are lost notebooks and slow computers. There are absences and presents.

To succeed one must be willing to abandon, at any moment and at any time. It is the present which is the present and not its relation to the future. As you teach, teach in that moment. Your plans are only a map -- there are innumerable real and unmarked paths to reach your destination.

David
# 9 - What we teach in not what we teach!

In all human acts there is a mystery, a hole, a multitude of other movements. Same with teaching.

Every teacher has an objective, a target, a curriculum, a focus for the lesson. But is this what is taught? Or what is attempted to be taught?

In language (which is so much multifarious like life), most of the learning is outside of the objective. You aim to teach past "ed" verbs and one student learns the word "transitive" another the phrase, "May I go to the washroom". Language is learned not as the teacher wishes nor as the goal presents itself....

If the spirit is correct, learning will happen. We need an objective, we need hands on the steering wheel to keep our cart on the trail, we need a destination. But more important is to be open to time of the journey getting there. My what a view! -- that is learning.
Create a classroom that enjoys the view -- the destination will then arrive.
#10 - Teaching is the art of making the invisible, visible.

Despite appearances, all "things", all "ideas", ALL is connected. There are invisible strings that bind like to like. Language reveals this in metaphor, thought reveals it in poetry and the teacher reveals it in their lesson.

After all the facts are learned, the journey is only a quarter way there. We must fill all the spaces that separate these stones in the endless stream of life. Only then can we bridge and travel between what we knew and what we might know. This we then call "understanding".

Teach so the spaces are revealed - there are enough rocks around to start making the bridge.

Despite appearances, all "things", all "ideas", ALL is connected. There are invisible strings that bind like to like. Language reveals this in metaphor, thought reveals it in poetry and the teacher reveals it in their lesson.


Ok, if I look at this scientifically, from a physical standpoint, everything that is, and ever was, and by extrapolation, ever will be (at least as far as we humans have been able to percieve) is connected (sometimes quite distantly connected, but connected all the same.) Then I get to the question, beyond the physical fact, is there any meaning to this? And that is where, for me, it gets into a belief system, and I don't quite get it : ). In the small senses, yes, in the classroom, in the school... and somehow that fact can be quite terrible, maybe like a terrible beauty... not easy and sweet.

After all the facts are learned, the journey is only a quarter way there. We must fill all the spaces that separate these stones in the endless stream of life. Only then can we bridge and travel between what we knew and what we might know. This we then call "understanding".

I say thank god for this- without the spaces, if truth were limited to "just the facts," I would have so much more failure in my life.

Just rumminating : )
#11 - See the BIG picture.

"The fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing." - a fragment of verse from Archilochus

When teaching we often get lost in the forest. Trees are everywhere, there are so many fires to put out, there are so many trees to chop down!

The master teacher always acts with the forest in mind. The big picture is what he/she understands and each little action is informed by it. The master teacher is not a sly, intelligent fox but a wise, slow and sure hedgehog. Focus your teaching from this perspective - HAPPINESS. It is from there that all other actions are made good.
Focus your teaching from this perspective - HAPPINESS. It is from there that all other actions are made good.

Oh david, I do so like how you remind me of these things, thanks :)


# 12 Nothing IS Something

When teaching, allow for space. When teaching allow for thought. When teaching pause.

So many teachers really fear silence in the classroom -- they demand a "quick" answer. Wait for your students to think before discussing. The clanging bell rings no beauty! Sometimes doing nothing, is doing something......

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