Monday, October 15, 2007

Shine my little light

Each year I see new teachers who enter the demands of public education with a catalog of pedagogical theories, a portfolio of unproven curricula and lesson plans, and a sparkling enthusiasm accompanied by a certain sense of naiveté. What most are lacking is any practical wisdom that can only come from experience. So, I thought I would shine my little light and reflect on what I could do to strengthen the profession for new and current teachers.

I believe the single-most important thing I can do to strengthen the teaching profession is to be a shining example of what I think a good teacher is.

For fellow teachers, I believe my youth, enthusiasm, and sense of humor can help be effective medicine against demoralization, frustration, and becoming jaded. Being a teacher of AP, I also feel an obligation to keep my colleagues, both at the high school and beyond, informed of current trends in mathematical education, in terms of curriculum emphasis, instructional methods, and vertical alignment. I have given presentations on the local level (my math department) and at the state level (Council for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching: CAMT).

For future educators, by being an unrelenting, enthusiastic, caring, and knowledgeable example of a teacher, I hope to inspire a new generation of quality educators, who can then do the same for additional generations. After all, I’m in this profession because of the effects that four great teachers had on me. These were respected teachers who mastered their subject areas, but who also shared their life-lessons, innocuously delivering an inspiring curriculum that can never be measured on a standardized test.

I think the teaching profession will continue to improve if teachers are hired as professionals, treated as professionals, then empowered as professionals to work their “magic” in the classroom. They say you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Teachers must be willing to salt the horse’s oats. They must be willing to admit their faults, stay abreast of (or at least not fall too far behind) the technology curve, experiment with methods, and realize the ever-changing dynamic of our society, and how their discipline fits within the larger context. Teachers must be willing to learn as much, if not more that what they are teaching. The best teachers will be those that are, themselves, life-long students.

Speaking of learning, I gotta go learn the next lesson before my students get here!

No comments: