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I have figured that over the last 20 years of teaching, every three years my teaching changes so much that a student coming back would experience none of the same activities, and feel as though they were in a totally different classroom.
“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
I would say that 25% of the changes come from reflecting on lessons, and 75% come from reflecting on life.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
I often find myself answering kids’ questions with “I don’t know, I have never done this before.”
“The teachers who get “burned out” are not the ones who are constantly learning, which can be exhilarating, but those who feel they must stay in control and ahead of the students at all times.”
What they don’t know, is that I am really not referring to the lesson, but I am referring to me. Each one of my units usually reflects an unfinished mental or spiritual change that is occurring inside of me. I am constantly changing, therefore so is my teaching.
“It is a terrifying thought to think of our classrooms as laboratories for self-creation and existential discovery. How could anybody administer that? But that is exactly what they are! And so the teacher’s lessons are never separate from the teacher’s own evolving intellectual identity.”
Robert Inchausti Spitwad Sutras: Classroom Teaching as Sublime Vocation
When we talk about change and reform in education, no policy, no professional development, no new college program will lead to change unless they take the learner on a journey of self-exploration.
“There is no difference between living and learning . . . it is impossible and misleading and harmful to think of them as being separate. Teaching is human communication and like all communication, elusive and difficult…we must be wary of the feeling that we know what we are doing in class. When we are most sure of what we are doing, we may be closest to being a bore.”
John Holt, What Do I Do Monday? NY: Dutton, 1970.
Too often we speak about reform and changes in school in procedural terms. Pretty much any reform is in fact simply new procedures. A change of procedures, without a change in the identity of the teacher will result in no change.
“Learning is not so much an additive process, with new learning simply piling up on top of existing knowledge, as it is an active, dynamic process in which the connections are constantly changing and the structure reformatted.”
K. Patricia Cross
If you want to change “how” you teach, if you want to change “how” your students learn, you must change yourself first.
The kids will never become who you want them to be, they will become who you are.