Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Power of One Good Teacher

In today's world of high stake testing and teacher accountability we are led to believe that it takes a village to raise a child and that if the child turns out bad then the village must be burnt to the ground and all of it's inhabitants ritualistically sacrificed to the education gods in order to correct the great mishap. But what about those of us who remember what it was actually like to be a student?
I was not a fan of school! Let me say it a different way...I greatly disliked school! It was not because I did not have friends, a sense of belonging, or bad teachers because none of that was true. As a matter of fact I had great friends (many of who I am still in contact with today), was very active in sports, and had teachers that went above and beyond everyday! But in the end I did not like it, neither here nor there...I did not like it anywhere! I guess it was like sending me to the ballet everyday. It did not matter what they did or which story they told it was still the ballet and I still did not like it!
Was this the fault of the school system? Was it the fault of my teachers? Maybe it was the fault of my family! Or perhaps it was who I was! I specifically can remember many of the things that my teachers did along the way to make learning fun...I had teachers who buried artifacts in the yard of the school that we later had to go and discovery, map, and make a hypothesis about the culture we were uncovering. I went to a school that had an outdoor science lab that students used to explore all aspects of life science. I had computer and math teachers who wrapped their teaching around real life. All of my teachers were student centered and at the cutting edge of their field. Despite all of this I did not like school!
Needless to say that the further I went through school the worst my grades became. I tried to play sick as often as I could. By the time I was a sophomore I had become a C/D student and had no desire to even try. I hated school! But then something happened!
In my junior year I took a life science class with a teacher who made a connection with me in a way that no other teacher had before him or since. He did not work with me personally and he actually may have a difficult time remembering me as one of his students. What he did was he spoke in a way that helped me understand how to be a successful student. It was not the content but the delivery that made the difference! Quite simply he was the first teacher that taught me about me and what I needed to do to be successful. He moved the ball into my court and the rest was up to me! In one grading period I went from a C/D student to a straight A student! All because of one teacher....
SO in the end I guess I want to say that many of our students do not like school and yet we expect them to act like it is the best thing in the world...we need to understand that school is not every ones favorite place! Second, very few people who are teachers are doing it for selfish reasons and that they are actually very talented people who have been asked to deliver the highest quality of education ever expected in the history of our country with the largest lack of resources ever facing our education system. And finally, many students are just waiting for that one teacher to make that connection.

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