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Learning Communities

Started by Allan Richards in Teaching and Methodology Oct 27. 0 Replies

Hey everyone!I am new to the forum and am curious how you feel learning communities benefit educators when it comes to developing a collective responsibility as educators. Do you feel a forum like…Continue


Started by Christina Shepherd in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Oct 26. 1 Reply

How does implementation help you out throughout the year? I am curious to know what things have worked for you and what things have not worked for you through an implementation standard.  Continue

ABCs - Alphabet Resources or Ideas?

Started by NEWS NOW in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 19. 74 Replies

I guess the alphabet is our bread…Continue

Tags: children, abc, kids, phonics, reading

Top 5 Game

Started by susie silver in Teaching and Methodology. Last reply by ddeubel Sep 17. 14 Replies

Hi David Maybe its obvious to some but I'm not sure how to play and I also want to create a top 5 game as well. What is the point of it. There are always 5 answers. Do the students guess according to…Continue

Tags: 5, top




The #1 .... (thing that makes teaching so difficult)

Number One** Not your ordinary, endless list - just what's number 1.

The participation in the creation of something which is invisible.

There are so many things that make a teacher's life difficult. To name just a few of the thousand: noise, planning, snotty noses, mouthy kids, stuffy classrooms, things that don't work, things that do work but are just a pain in the ass, parents that don't care, parents that care too much, bureaucracy driving you crazy, 24/7 on your mind, marking, judging, keeping up, poor food, lousy pay, being a prisoner to the curriculum, nobody sharing, nobody caring, a clock that ticks too loud, the memory of what could be ..... need I go on?

However hard all this is - it pales in comparison to what I think makes teaching so difficult - that it is essentially, "invisible". You are participating in the creation of something so precious, so valuable but which so few will ever notice or recognize.

Before becoming a teacher, I spent a good 8 years building things. Houses, warehouses, factories and finally skyscrapers. Loved it. Loved mostly the sense of going there are there not being anything. And then, slowly, magically, through your own sweat and blood (and yes, I bled), there was a building, walls and doors and windows and a roof. It was uplifting, it kept me going.

But imagine creating kids you can never love?

Imagine creating something that always leaves?

Imagine even worse, enriching and nurturing life that no one sees?

Yes, we are artists of the invisible. Days of sweat and toil for something we can't see - only that which we believe. And that is so difficult.

If someone near to you doesn't recognize how valuable and how hard working you are - print this out and have them read it. At least this piece of paper will be evidence of all that you've invisibly and deliciously added to the world. Print this out to show the world that you have immensely contributed.

But it is hard - participating in "the invisible".

I remember years later, as a teacher, driving by those building I brought to life. I'd smile every time. One time, a giant Toy's R' Us factory north of Toronto, I did go inside. I went and sat in the lounge and started chatting with some of the staff taking their coffee break. Amid our banter, I mentioned I'd built this building, spread out the blueprints and from what wasn't there, made something appear. I asked them if they ever thought about who had sweated and worked so hard to make this building. They mostly grinned and said, "No", "Oh my god"... Then they wondered back into their own thoughts.

It was hard that. That even they could not see how much the steel men had contributed - Claude, my boss' son even cutting open his leg after falling from the scissor lift. It was hard. But not near as hard as being a teacher, always saying good bye and always having so little to show others. At least in this case - there was a building.

Can you see the hidden tiger?


Views: 41

Comment by Ellen Pham on January 25, 2011 at 8:10am

You take goodbyes hard, David : ) I think I am more like the bitch that says after six weeks, enough, no more tit! I love them, then I miss them, and finally I enjoy remembering them : ) I like every part of the cycle.


You need some kids :)))


I am going to go out on a limb here and say it might be more difficult for caring male teachers. As a mother, and even somewhat simply as a woman, I was well-used to working with the invisible. But a male professor I had in graduate school poignantly made the same point as you.


The system was much, much harder on me. The constant thread of getting hit on the back of the head, but never seeing it coming! I meant threat, but thread actually works well there. I personally just don't handle that well- I get devastated. When I teach, I don't have certain types of defenses- I'm all in. Anything less, and I know I'm doing something against the children's spirits. I don't know- anytime I try to explain it, it sounds dorky.


At its heart, teaching is a spiritual experience for me. Knowing what to do flows through me. It's like I'm a vessel. I just can't watch my back and be connected to the source simultaneously. Some authority figures find me so threatening, and I can't understand why. I try to follow the rules right up until the point where it becomes cruel, but when I must stop because it would be morally wrong to continue, I don't make a show of it. I consciously try not to offend, and I don't believe my way is the only way. I only judge cruelty in another teacher or other school worker, nothing else. And I always see the good in the other, even when it is mixed with other things.


I teach as a full human being, with my highest authority being the complete well-being of my students, to the best of my ability. It's not complicated, and it's not at all scary. It's gentle at its essence. And of course I am competent at teaching the skill stuff- I am very smart and really enjoy the intellectual exercise of figuring out the best way to communicate whatever it is we're trying to learn or do.


But its over, and it has been for awhile. Unless I'm willing to go to the back woods of Alaska and teach in 40 below weather, it's not going to happen again in the public school system, maybe any system? But it's the most meaningful work I could do. I was filled with meaning everyday that I did it : ).

Comment by ddeubel on January 25, 2011 at 11:10am



You are still do it (and I hope getting that "meaning")!


I know what you mean about "women" and I think we had that discussion at length a year or so back... do you remember? I don't specifically but at the end of the day, I did agree with you about how women who have children, are much more fit for the teaching  "dynamic".


I'm really fine with the ephemeral nature of teaching and in my spirit - I guess I wasn't so clear with that in the post. but I just write in one big puff of air, so it contains my lungs, guts and being.... so hard to control that. I guess I stressed to much the "sadness of ephemeral", my philosophical anger at entropy. I think I really though, wanted to say that it is hard to be motivated as a teacher , when you don't see something physically growing, added upon and piling up. I didn't communicate that well.


But that's the best way to teach "all in" and despite your words, I can't help but think there is some difficulty in that and in how it just "goes away". But I think you agree, that's for the good. True joy is built upon all our defeats - kind of like the simple words of a fav. poet of mine Nobel Laureate Cszelaw Milos, "defeated we shall win"....


I'll return to my first point about you - once a "real" teacher, always a teacher.

Comment by Ellen Pham on January 25, 2011 at 7:16pm

You know, maybe I haven't "hung" with that (the sadness of the ethereal) all the way through. Honestly, my two full-time, certified (I did a lot of teaching before getting a degree) teaching jobs ended with a broken heart, because I was ripped away too soon. Occasionally, all the pain of that still wells up and comes flowing out... I have a patient sister when that happens.


But you do need kids, David (however you get them. I have an old online friend who just contacted me after years. When I knew him, he had none, and none in the horizon... now he has SIX!!! I am astounded.) One of the great things about teaching after I became a mother (and no, I don't think women are more suited to the teaching dynamic- I think some things might be easier for us, because of our life experiences, but when a man is kind in the way real teaching demands, there is nothing more beautiful or effective). Anyway, what I was saying is, I could be all-in all day, spend hours before and after thinking and planning... but as soon as I was home, it simply disappeared until the next time. I had kids! It was relieving because I never believed I could solve all my student's problems... I was only their teacher. But within that, we could have a great time. Within the hours of a school day, the world was ours to create and live in : )


(edited by ellen : ) )

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