3 Questions to Help You Become a More Effective Teacher

My mom, Karen Sollenberger, played a big role in my both becoming a teacher and being an artist. Lately we've been talking a lot about education, what needs to change, and how. We keep going back to the beginning. Teachers of all kinds, public, private, homeschool, need to remember why they're teaching, they need a framework that brings focus to chaos.

"Education is what people do to you. Learning is what you do for yourself" -- Joi Ito


>"Why do you teach?"

This is a question that is often asked of teachers. The common response is, "I do it for the kids! I love the kids!" I then had to think about myself. Why have I taught for 35 years? My answer would be, "I love the kids! And I love to learn!"

Doing the job of teaching well takes knowing how to learn well - and then wanting to do just that. Teaching and learning take working with a purpose, seeing the "big picture," organizing papers and information, knowing the "how" and the "why" of everything, using teachable moments productively, rethinking, showing creativity, laughing every day, and so on...

But wait, we aren't ready for the long "to-do" list yet. We need to reflect on what I consider to be the best starting point. That starting point is to learn through the eyes and the heart of a child, while recognizing the wonder of it all.

Wonder is a natural quality of "babyhood." Wonder makes a baby push onto the next level of learning. Wonder makes for growth.

So how should we teach for wonder?

We should teach to all of the senses: what is seen, heard, felt, smelled and tasted. Do we presently teach to all of the senses? My experience in multiple settings of education would indicate that we do not do this very well, that is teach to all of the senses. Because of this deficit, children (and then adults) lose the sense of wonder. They lose the natural flow of learning.
What about the heart of a child?

It is essential to expand the essence of the individual child. We expand a child by seeing each child for who they are. We expand a child by accepting them for who they are. We expand a child by guiding them through the processes of teaching and learning so that they can reach their own unique potential. What a joy to be a teacher who encourages and supports each child to move on, to grow into themselves, to be an individual.

Love kids, love learning, teach to wonder, teach individuals... pie in the sky! No, these concepts are the makeup of the core of education. These concepts are the first blocks on building the tower to the sky. Start right here, learning as a child and teaching to that child.

After this foundation is laid.... Now is the time for specifics. Time to check back to the "to-do" list. Time to learn the why and how of the "art of teaching." This will be work! But at the end of the day, the child knows more and, guess what, so do you as the teacher. We should never stop learning and teaching -- now that is education that I can get excited about! How about you?

If you'd like to be more excited about your teacher, and feel less overwhelmed, click here.