Every so often

Every so often, it occurs to me to think about how most of my teaching career is based around teaching kids to do something that I do poorly.

Oh, it’s not to say that I’m a bad history teacher, or a bad Latin teacher, or that I’m G0d-awful at any of the things that I teach officially.  But I teach so many more things than my official subject matter.  Yesterday I taught someone how to use a sewing machine.  Thursday I taught someone how to keep a to-do list.  Wednesday I taught someone how tie a couple of knots.  Tuesday I taught someone how to plan backwards.  Last month I taught someone to find the constellation of Gemini.

But really, a lot of teaching work is

  1. meeting kids where they are;
  2. meeting kids with anything at all that you can do, at the level you can do it;
  3. providing them with basic instruction;
  4. encouragement to learn more;
  5. directions to more information.
I KNOW there’s a lot more nuance to that, and I KNOW that we expect more of our teachers than that they do things poorly, particularly in the lower grades where even a child’s small gains can magnify over the long haul in astonishing ways.
But I’m sometimes amazed at how much of our work is about connecting young people to new ideas, new skills, and new abilities, which we may not even do very well. When the moment comes, though, we’re it. We’re the ones who are there, and so we are the ones who get asked.

That manse we have to have an answer. We have to be willing to try. It’s ok for that answer to be “no…” as long as the next sentence is, “but let’s figure it out.”

And that’s maybe what it means to say, “Let’s do it for the kids.”

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