What Do You Teach?

Rita Brodnax is likely a name you don’t know, but I’d like to give her credit for the view that I take about students – well, people in general, in fact.

Educators, many of them, are group of people who like kids. Oh yes, I do think they have a passion for their subject area, or their level. But whether you like 5th grade or you like literature or physics floats your boat, you are likely to get into this “business” ultimately because you like sharing the “ah-ha” moments with others, and at least for K-12 teachers, because they like kids.

Just like airplane disasters, we tend to remember the awful teacher, the > than 1% who give the profession a bad name, but by in large, WE LIKE KIDS!

Still we find in our classrooms with a wide variety of abilities. It tests us. Creatively. Intellectually. Physically. Emotionally. We might find ourselves taxed to our limit trying to figure out how to handle little Johnny who is chronically 10 steps behind day after day. Or conversely, keeping little Susie, who 10 steps ahead of you, engaged appropriate instead of also becoming a distraction to the rest of the class.

Step back a minute. Remember that Guidance didn’t necessary fill your classroom based on IQ, reading scores, or the ability to organize. I recall, as a new teacher, trying to figure out “what was ‘WRONG’ with this child?”

A season of staff development began to teach me that there wasn’t something wrong with little Johnny; he was not deficient, but rather he was still developing.

Deficient implies not just can’t, but never can.

Developing suggests there’s a place to begin and a goal to attain. Developing suggest that you have a responsibility to find out what that child needs and what resources you might use to help them grow.

It’s the difference between, “I taught it; you should have learned it” and “Let me find another way to explain this” or “Let’s keep working together to help you figure this out”. This attitude is at the foundation of differentiation. It says that we must get to know our students and not just based on what the latest tests scores says. It means I must come into a relationship of advocate, facilitator, mentor and teacher for EACH AND EVERY child in my classroom. This is the fundamental difference in effective teachers.

Developing, not deficient.

Thank you, Rita. I used to teach Language Arts. Because of you, I now teach students.

About Frankie

A Navy vet, an educator (retired but still working), and a mom of three girls, and two grandsons. Married to the love of my life. Dirt and words. That sums up what gets my attention. Read on and find out why.
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