As the class sat expectantly and slightly in awe, my first college education professor asked, “Why do you want to be a teacher?” One student answered, “I want to be a teacher because I love children.” Boom! The instructor’s firm response was, in essence, “Loving the children alone doesn’t do it. You have to know what you’re doing.” Our careers in teaching had begun.
Now that I am on the other side of decades of teaching, here’s my take on it – “When the heart of the student is touched by the love of the teacher, true learning takes place.” When a teacher loves and appreciates the student for who he is and what he can become, he/she knows it and is willing to do as much as they can.
For me, being a well-trained teacher is a form of love; being open to new ideas is a form of love; learning to see the good in every student is a form of love.
VIGNETTE. Five years into my teaching career, I was assigned a science class with sixth graders when sixth was in the elementary school. One student loved disrupting our class. One day, as the sixth graders lined up to leave the room, he decided it was time to teach his teacher a lesson. Putting up his fists and taking a fighter’s stance, he offered to beat me up. [Mind you, he was a shade taller than I was!] That challenge put the class on pause.
My humor kicked in. I carefully and slowly bit by bit moved my body to mimic his pose making sure he knew what I was doing. I set myself up as he was – fists up, feet spread, chin out – then, sighing deeply, I said with an exaggerated sadness, “I know I’m going to lose, but if it makes you happy, I’m willing to take you on.” He burst into laughter – as did the class.
Now I don’t recommend this as a teaching technique, but letting him save face after putting us both into a lose-lose situation saved both of us. After this, the classroom was no longer a place for him to demand attention. He knew I wasn’t trying to win, I just wanted to teach. And, he realized that I appreciated him – just as he was. Yes, we were friends from then on – ‘teacher/student’ friends. No, I didn’t send him to the office although I let the principal know what happened. Sometimes, as a friend once told me, we just move on. We moved on.