I am reposting this piece from September of last year, because my kid's teacher got a pink slip and I just keep going around and around in my head - we have money for foreign wars, for tax cuts, and for bank bailouts, but we can't pay one rock star teacher and we just keep telling everyone who doesn't own a huge corporation that they have to cut, and cut, and cut some more. I know this scenario is playing out again and again across our country. So, here it is.... again.
Quick, think of a teacher - a schoolteacher, a coach, a tutor, a mentor - who changed your life for the better.
Did that person see potential in you when you didn't necessarily see it in yourself?
Did that person make you feel like you existed and were unique?
Did that person take the time to focus on you and your own point of view?
Again and again I hear the Story of the Great Teacher. And each time it is incredibly powerful. And each time, it is about someone, who wasn't your mom or dad, noticing you and taking some time just for you.
So much is said about schools, and teaching methods, and money, and all of it - charters, vouchers, homeschooling, unschooling, bla bla bla...
But over and over I hear the Story of the Great Teacher, and the impact they have on people for the rest of their lives.
And every time, it is about how someone took the time to notice and encourage.
So, while we run around making charts and giving standardized tests and arguing about budgets, maybe there is one simple thing that goes at the core, no matter how much red tape and ideology gets layered on top.
That is, the great teachers and mentors in our lives are the ones who take time to notice and encourage. Every student should have someone who notices and encourages them. Every single student in the whole wide world. Someone who is out in the world, the school, the team, somewhere outside the family, who treats them like a unique person. Perhaps this is the core of great teaching, the ability to recognize students' personalities and abilities and to acknowledge them as people. That's it. You can put that on a chart any way you want.
Here is yet another version of the Great Teacher Story - please enjoy.