Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Wed, 29 Nov 1995 17:03:23 -0500 (EST)
Random Thought: What Kind of Teacher Are You?

It has been a bit of a challenge all day wrestling with a profound question thrown at me this morning by a non-traditional student the answer to which I promised for tomorrow. He and I had been sitting in the hallway, sucking on some Tootsie Pops, engaging in one of those reviewing and reflective "end of the quarter" chats. He's stationed at the local air force base. As we got down to the dark, delicious, choclatey center, he rose on his hauanches and said, "You know doc, the Air Force has moved me all over the world. I've had classes in a bunch of subjects with a wad of professors in a more than a few schools. I've decided that there are a lot of people who teach, but there aren't many who know how to teach and still less who love teaching. How do you know, really know, if you love to teach and what kind of teacher you are?"

Well, I've come up with an answer with which I am comfortable and which I'd like to share with you. I think the best way to know if I love teaching has little to do with how tightly I hug my subject or how loudly I proclaim my love learning. Nothing wrong with either one, but I'm not all that sure they are bedrock evidence for love of teaching. I don't think I could really love teaching unless I saw it as a mission rather than just a way to earn a living. And, I don't think I would be able to see teaching as a calling unless I loved people. That I think is the first principle of teaching from which everything derives. You can find satsifaction doing research and you can get excited about you subject and you can have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. But, above all, to love teaching, you have to practice the golden rule of education: to love each and every student, to care about each of them. Coming to think about it, isn't that the crux of the golden rule: love and caring?

So, I guess if you really want to get a sense of the kind of teacher you are, listen and see to how times you moan and groan and protest in word and gesture: "They are such a burden"; "I don't have enough time to research"; "They'll never learn to...."; "They can't do...."; "Ho-hum, another day, another......"; "Wrong"; "They don't know how to......"; "I'll just show up and....."; "I've always done it this way and...."; "I don't like this class"; "My job is to weed out the...."; "That's a dumb question"; "I'm not a nurse maid"; "It's so boring"; "No"; "Do it my way"; "None of that 'touchy-feely' stuff for me"; "I've got more important things to do"; I've been doing it this way all these years and...."

And then, count how many times you hear and see yourself excitedly exclaim and proclaim in word and gesture: "I love being in the classroom"; "I can't wait to get in the classroom"; "It's always exciting to go to class"; "There's nothing more important than guiding...."; "This is an adventure"; "I don't know, but why don't we both find out"; "This is a challenge"; "Yes"; "I'm gonna stretch myself"; "I've learned and grown"; "You're more important than....."; "It's my mission to...."; "How would you do it"; "It's exciting to watch them....."; "I'll do anything to help them to...."; "I'll try this new approach"; "I've got to change"; "They're beautiful, magic, wonderful"; "I love the students"; "Yes, you can...."; "Wow!"

I guess, then, I'll tell my student that if you really want to know what kind of a teacher you are, don't look at your list of publications and conference papers, don't count the quantity and variety of subjects you read, and don't count the years you've been in a classroom. Instead, see how much pygmalion you practice day in and day out in the classroom.

Have a good one.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
                            /\/\-/ /^\___\______\_______/__/_______/^\
                          -_~     /  "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\
                             _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -\____

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