Tuesday, September 4, 2012

[NBI] My teaching story

This post is part of the new blogger initiative.

Every teacher has a handful of characteristics that make him or her unique. While your teaching style may share characteristics with other teachers, it's the unique combination that makes you different. It's interesting to figure out where those come from.

Right before I started my first year of teaching, we did this activity:

  1. Put a post-it note in the middle of a blank piece of paper.
  2. Think of your four favorite teachers you've had.
  3. Write their names on the paper around the edges of the post-it note.
  4. Now think about each teacher individually. Choose one word that describes why you wrote that teacher's name.
  5. Remove the post-it note.
Ta da! How similar does that look to your teaching style?

Here's mine:

Fun, faith, inquiry, & reach
Fun (high school Spanish teacher)
I wasn't convinced I wanted to be fluent in Spanish, but we had so much fun in this class that we didn't realize how much we were learning. I recognize that now with how much Spanish I still remember, even though its chief use is when we go out to eat.

Faith (high school computer science teacher)
He challenged us, a lot. But it was always obvious that he truly believed and knew that we could do what he threw at us. And you know what? We always did. After a while, I just started to figure that if he was assigning it, I could do it.

Inquiry (high school physics teacher)
This was my introduction to a truly inquiry-based modeling class. He drove a lot of my peers mad because he wouldn't just give us the answers, but he was one of the first teachers to introduce the idea that we're fully capable of creating our own knowledge.

Reach (high school orchestra teacher)
I remember sitting in orchestra after a recent concert and getting the new music. We would look at it, try to play some of it, and sometimes barely make it through a measure. Follow this up with one of my most vivid memories from high school - the director tearing up on stage after finishing the last note. That's what I mean by reach - she showed us what we could do.

The really powerful part

I had a student come in during lunch last year, and she saw the post-it note hanging above my desk. "What's that?", she asked. I briefly explained it to her.

Her response? "Yeah, that really does fit you."

Just think about that. The qualities of my favorite teachers not only influence how I like to teach, but my students recognize them in my teaching. These teachers were so amazing that they're impacting my students.

That's the kind of teacher I want to be.