Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Teaching Students Respect and Critical Thinking: What Really Matters

As I have been following the email conversations of my former Harvard graduate school peers over the past few weeks, I cannot help but notice the many references to Teach for America (TFA). While I have not been a part of TFA myself, many of my current and former colleagues have been -- and have myriad opinions on the program. One such teacher started her career with TFA in Arizona for seven years and has now been teaching for over 18 years! I often associate TFA with new teachers who dedicate a couple of years to urban or rural teaching before going on to bigger and better things. Thus, it is refreshing to hear that many TFAs are now middle-aged veterans in education.  

The summer before you are placed in your school, TFA offered a six week crash course in a variety of educational theories and a brief stint of student teaching. My colleague told me, "If I knew then what I know now, I would have been far more daunted by the notion of six weeks of anything preparing me for the classroom.  For me, the strength of the organization was and has always been the sense of purpose it instills in people looking to make a difference in the world. When you find yourself in a parish that in less than a month has been devastated by Hurricane Andrew, you really need to ride that wave of enthusiasm. But whether one follows a traditional or non-traditional path to certification, the real work always begins in the classroom."

Like my colleague, I also believe that while classroom management is vital, teaching is truly an artform. Even veteran teachers hone their craft every day. My colleague has been around long enough to see old ideas become new again and the pendulum swing in both directions on time honored issues of debate, but one thing never changes, she says. "It is the lesson I learned from TFA and from all the great mentors that have come since. We must inspire our students. They will think critically if we challenge them to do so. That is the real work of respect." I could not have said that better myself.

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