Yesterday’s post, Tugging on the Common Thread, had more response that I have received in a long time. The frustration over the ever-changing landscape struck a chord with a lot of people. The idea that great teaching is great teaching and connecting with students and growth seemed to one thing that teachers can agree on. I decided to follow-up and expand on this just a bit.
This is one of those times that I am writing more than to talk to myself than to you…but feel free to listen in on my personal self conversation.
It is one thing to say that students and student growth matters most, despite what is common in education at any given time. But what does that mean. How do I cut to the core of this for me, my students, my classroom, my school, and my community?
Standards matter. We are paid to teach students what they say. The test at the end matters. Developing students to the point that they understand the standards to the level of my test is our job.
How do we focus on student growth and this at the same time? We all know that most of our students need growth and instruction that falls outside of the standards and the test.
I think the biggest key is simple in theory but difficult in practice.
Teachers, know thine students.
You have to know those little rascals in your classroom. You have to have a rapport. You have to understand what makes them tick. You have to have some knowledge of how and why they think they way that they do.
I think it is that simple. This is only way to grow student understanding and create life-long learners.
When you know students, you know their interests and deficits. You know their strengths and weaknesses. You know what they need before they know they need it. You are able to see growth where other people would see a stagnate learner.
When you know what growth looks like in a student, you can foster that growth. You can differentiate. You can push them to deeper understanding. You can scaffold. You can remove scaffolding. You can see smart and intelligence where even the student and his/her family doesn’t, and you can bring it out for everyone else to see.
This is the core of it. Knowing those young people in your room. Getting to know and understand even the ones that drive you insane. You have to know and want to know the students!
Does this mean that they will love you and students will all appreciate the work you put into this? Goodness no! But you will know what is best for them and give them what they need…even if they don’t want it!
Will this make you teacher of the year?
Maybe, but probably not. This is not being your students’ best friend. It is taking the time to get to know them, though. It is hard work, but it is worth it in the end.
Will your students see your awesome all of the time? Nope.
But will your awesome shine through in the end, no matter what the educational system is like at any given time? Yes!
This is the core. This is the common thread. Know your students and you will make them grow!
Grow those students, Teacher! I know you will! You are awesome! Keep on getting to know those kiddos and keep on teaching, Teacher!