In the spirit of good bloggy dialogue and preparing for the new school year, I keep up with Patience, Cher Mere, and others reflecting on their teaching. (except that my reflection shows me that I am not quite the teacher they are!)
I am a good teacher because . . . .
My highest values are wisdom and compassion, even when I fail to live them. In practice this means that I am curious and encourage curiosity, and that I take care to distinguish learning from evaluating. (Though of course it’s good to learn to evaluate.)
If I were not a teacher I would be . . .
I don’t think this question fits me . . . I’d be what I already am . . . Next!
My teaching style is . . .
“Here kid, learn this!”
Sorry, it’s true. I stand back as far as possible. I don’t really even like reading aloud that much, because I feel like I’m coming between the kid and the source. For this year my primary “intervention” will be helping Violet improve her habit of paying attention so that she can continue to be an ever-more-independent learner. For Victoria, I’m sure a somewhat different style will emerge, but independence is such a high value for me I know that I will still be as hands-off as I can.
My classroom is . . .
Mostly the dining room and living room — that’s where the table, sofa, and piano are.
My lesson plans are . . .
Pretty seat-of-the pants. I like to have a general idea of what subjects we’ll address each day and then I let our books guide us through. I would love to create unit studies but I just don’t see it happening with me. I think it may have something to do with the way that I make outlines after I’ve written the paper, and never before. On the Myers-Briggs, I am a “P” and an “N,” if that helps explain it.
One of my teaching goals is . . .
to have more fun as we learn. Once I have a plan, I tend to get rather stuck on it, and fun be damned. I’d like to get a litte more creative, which would require more forethought. I guess that’s a goal for me.
Overall my goal is to allow my girls to learn at an appropriate pace and level while also allowing them to be little girls. And I suppose when they are not little girls, I’ll need a new goal!
The toughest part of teaching is . . .
Being incredibly impatient. Sometimes children are not ready to be as independent as you want them to be!
The thing I love about teaching is . . .
Being with my kids. Obviously I treasure the time spent cuddling and appreciating their cuteness, but it’s great to hang out with them once they’re at an age that they are actually making sense!
A common misconception about teaching is . . .
That there’s any one way to do it.
The most important thing I’ve learned since starting teaching is . . .
Humility. All of life seems to me to be one big, long lesson in humility. Of course motherhood started me on the path of realizing that it is really obnoxious to pretend that you know how other people ought to be living their lives in any respect — midwife v. OB, breast v. bottle, cloth v. paper, work v. home, cry-it-out v. family bed, sling v. stroller, spanking v. time-out, time-out v. natural consequences, foreskin v. circumcision, vaccines v. no vaccines.
By the time we started homeschooling, I figured we’d have moved through all that, but oh no. It’s not just traditional school v. homeschool (setting aside public [neighborhood? language immersion? gifted magnet?] v. private [Montessori? Waldorf?] v. religious), but unschool v. classical v. Charlotte Mason, etc. And then religious v. secular and “did it before it was common” v. “jumping on the bandwagon.” (Isn’t this about the smallest bandwagon you’ve ever seen? Yet I’ve heard that kind of stuff.)
I was at a BBQ today and a nice guy my age was there with his wife and their first-born, all of 7 weeks. A good friend was again encouraging me to consider the gifted magnet (where her kids go), and this guy chimed in with some line about, “You know, homeschooling happens even if you send your kids to school,” and “you can teach your kids when they’re home and still send them to school for” — can you guess what he said?! I bet you can! — “socialization.” I just smiled at Eggmaster and kept quiet. I don’t know, maybe he just completed his a sociology doctorate with a dissertation on the lives of homeschoolers (actually, I know for sure this is not the case), but why do perfect strangers who have never even been in a situation remotely like ours (like, say, having a child of school age) feel the need to offer their thoughts on what “you can” do? Believe me, with about 4 kids at this party about to start Kindergarten, I was not out proselytizing on behalf of the Great Homeschool Movement. As parents talked excitedly about sending their kids off for the first time I smiled and said, “that’s great!” rather than “wow, I hope school doesn’t suck as much for you as it did for us,” because it seems quite possible that it won’t.
It’s hard enough for me to keep my own family going, let alone figuring out how someone else’s should work. Trying to figure out homeschooling has been another opportunity to consider that if I am so often confused about my own life, I should reserve judgment about everyone else’s.
Sigh . . I guess I needed to get That off my chest!