I want to take a moment and give you the basis of my understanding of teaching. Regardless of what you think about this philosophical shift I keep speaking about; if you do not have some idea of my core understanding of teaching, I would imagine it highly unlikely you would be able to make the connection to any of my examples used to explain the concepts. The more I thought about teaching, for me it boiled down to two parts: relationships and instruction.
Relationships are the core of teaching. Education as in life is about relationships. Understanding the value in people, and taking an interest in their story builds strong foundations for relationships. Strong relationships allow for effective education to take place. Relationships are the how in teaching. Effective teaching is done because the teacher has a relationship with the students. The students I have struggled with the most, not by accident, have the most difficult time building relationships. In order to build relationships with students teachers must intervene as necessary. Positive and effective interventions allow teachers to build relationships with the students beyond the classroom. Sometimes things as simple as a smile or a question about their day can be the beginning of an effective relationship. If a student has a relationship with the teacher and class, they will learn. In many cases without even knowing it happened. And let it be clear, I mentioned nothing about “like.” I have had many effective learning relationships with students I don’t like. This is a relationship built on mutual respect – continue to search for the good, giving every chance for the child to choose the right thing to do.
If relationships are the how we teach then instructional practice must be the “what” we teach. Instruction is the best practices you use in your classroom. In many districts, these are determined by administrators. Curriculum is often set by others, and in most recent political shifts, those other people are government representatives of education for the state. I doubt you will find any Earth shattering instructional practices. What I hope you find is that I force you to think about how and when you use those effective instructional practices in line with student learning.
Notice I left out the why. The why we teach is extremely personal, and I have often found for many it is a calling. It is a core belief, a little part of the person. Therefore, in respect to all who are reading this, I applaud your “why” and would never ask you to reevaluate the reason. After exploring some of my posts on the website you can’t determine my “why” and are curious, just ask and I would be happy to explain.