Understanding Teaching as a Skill Set: Written by a School Director, Teacher, Parent and Perpetual Student
|That's me - teaching a ballroom|
full of teachers.
The ability to teach well is a skill set. Not everyone with knowledge of a topic can teach it. As a certified teacher who jumped through what felt like the flaming hoops of course work, field work, a national teacher’s exam and still happily continues to get my continuing education hours every year, I am offended by the notion that anyone can do what I do. I have spent years studying, learning, reflecting and observing to hone my craft.
Teaching is a year-long, more-than-a-full-time-job job. We spend all year and many hours outside of our workplaces planning and preparing. More than that, more than the hours that you can count on a clock, is the gravity of our work and how it stays always in the forefront of our minds. Teachers worry about your children. We think long and hard about how to help students learn more, find their voice, succeed both academically and socially. Teaching is not a job that can be left at work. We have the humbling task of shaping every child’s experience and, though we are human and make mistakes, we try so hard to reach everyone.
When future teachers are working to become certified or current staff are attending their continuing education workshops, they are learning the newest theories about brain development. They are being trained on new curriculum. They are learning from experts about approaching behavioral and learning challenges in a way that is respectful, kind and productive. The key to a productive class is all that is encompassed in a classroom management plan – organization, reasonable boundaries, how to keep the class attentive & interested and more. A person may have an understanding of a topic and a willingness to stand in front of a group to talk about it but they need a pocket filled with tools. Schools are living, breathing environments where anything can happen – amazing, challenging, though provoking, and difficult things. It takes education and practice to be able to keep our tools at the ready while capturing the attention and imagination of our youth.
It is true that for parents, in-service days at school when teachers use the day to learn and the school is closed are inconvenient. I was that parent, too. I had to figure out what to do with my children on those random days of school closures. Conferences, conventions and well-planned days of teachers learning the newest ideas and methods are more important than most people can imagine. We come out of our silos and get to learn how to reach our students even better than we did already. We are invigorated. I wouldn’t want my children to be taught by people whose last bit of education about teaching was twenty or even ten years ago. I want my children to have teachers with current knowledge. I juggled babysitters but I welcomed the school closings. As a fellow educator, I knew how important those days were to the people who spent more hours with my children than I did.
We don’t just have to know math, literacy, science or history facts. We have to know about people and child development. Being in the business of human development isn’t easy and we don’t always hit the mark even when we are educated in education. That background knowledge and the continuation of learning is essential. The teachers who work with your children are professionals, or they should be because, I will say it again, not everyone with knowledge can teach.
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