What kind of teacher would you rather have? (Or be)

A is new to Melbourne, T is new to teaching and they are both new to my school. Neither is new to thinking about learning, which is what makes my introductory session with these passionate young educators so exciting. They both have deep beliefs about how children learn and they seek the best ways to build learning experiences on those foundations. They question existing systems and challenge the status quo of schooling in their quest for the best for all learners.

A visitor from another school, participating in our conversation for a while, told us about a group of willing new teachers at a school where she worked, who always accepted and agreed with everything. She didn’t talk about their practice and perhaps they ‘run lovely classrooms’, but I wonder how great a teacher you can be if you don’t constantly strive to understand how your learners learn, if you never challenge the way things are done, if you fail to question others and the system… and yourself.

In a recent conversation, a friend from another school expressed concern about a new teacher she has been mentoring. This teacher demonstrates passion for teaching and learning. She is a deep thinker, with strong beliefs about learning, who is reluctant to go through the motions of delivering prescribed programs and assessments that she does not believe are purposeful. On the other hand, she has yet to develop skills in classroom management. Her mentor is frustrated by her lack of organisation and attention to classroom behaviours.

I think you can learn classroom management. Can you learn to be passionate about learning if you’re not? Can you learn to care deeply if you don’t? Can you learn to base your practice on beliefs about learning, if you don’t really think about how learning takes place?

What kind of teachers are being trained in our systems? What kind of teacher would you rather have? What kind of teacher would you rather be?

5 thoughts on “What kind of teacher would you rather have? (Or be)

  1. Oh wow – this has been on my mind for a long time! I have major concerns about the ‘sameness’ of the trainees coming through the ranks at the moment – ‘cookie cutters’, ‘little boxes on the hillside made of ticky tacky’ – call it what you will. They are invariably well schooled and drilled in writing lesson and unit plans with well structured Learning Intentions, but when you ask them, “What is your fav picture book to read to a class?” or, “What is your go-to game for that 5 minutes before lunch” you are often met with blank faces or, “We haven’t covered that yet!” My oldest and dearest teaching friend, when she was struggling through her first team of teaching, was told by her wise and before-his-time principal to, Do what you are passionate about – the rest will fall into place. For my friend, that was Process Drama and Inquiry, and sure enough, everything else (Language, Maths…) fell into place.

    I agree with you – you can learn classroom management, but passion for learning…? I don’t think so – and I absolutely know what kind of teacher I would rather have working in my school, and with my children. I’m convinced it doesn’t even matter what it is that you are passionate about, just that vanilla doesn’t cut it.

    Thanks for a great post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ed, thank you for another great blog post.
    I love Greg’s comment too.
    Learning to “manage a class ” comes when we learn to connect with and really listen to children and hopefully get them to “manage themselves”.

    How blessed the teachers are whose passion is also their profession.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sam Sherratt often refers to this quote:

    “Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.”

    It is great that this deep thinking teacher is passionate about teaching and learning. However, when students are motivated and engaged, there should be no need for classroom management skills.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for the timely guidepost Edna. I am about to host a student teacher in my classroom. I will remember to demonstrate my passion for learning and my caring ethic each day the student teacher works alongside me. What I’m looking forward to most is getting my student teacher to help me question my own practice, learn more about learning, and help me sort out my classroom management – it’s never perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

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