Teaching: ( in a sense are all teachers and learners)
By Mark J Biberg
It seems that teaching is much more than knowing something or being good at something, or even being able to communicate that something in a clear and concise manner.
Being a teacher is a lifelong endeavor...we may achieve the title of teacher early in life, but the effective teacher is always in a process of becoming, of evolving, of doing a liitle bit better.
We can all think of a teacher who made a difference in our lives, and when I think back it was something that set that person apart. It was not so much what they taught me (names, dates, facts, principles, theories, methods) but rather it was how that teacher taught me to be as a person, how to treat people, and how to approach life....and that laid the basis for an appreciation of future learning...of lifelong learning.
The teachers I remember often conveyed a sense of caring, trust, empathy, and a sincere desire to teach young people about themselves; who they are, and to help them understand that we are all unique individuals.
To be sure it is important to teach students things; but I would rather teach students how to learn, the importance of learning, and to see learning as something that can help them make sense of their world.
One of the most importannt things a teacher needs to do is share a bit of themselves with their students. They need to be able to open up and show their humanity. To do this a teacher needs to know who they are as people, what drives them, what motivates them, what is inside them that makes them a teacher.
This is what makes teachers special. That something inside that is tough to expain, but all good teachers have it, and the great teachers use it as a bases for their teaching.
"Know thyself" urged Socrates and that is very true in the teaching field...before we can help students be who they are and encouarge them to continue to work towards their potential, we need to be able to understand ourselves, feel comfortable with who we are as people and teachers.
Teaching is an art form.....but it is never enough to say I am a teacher and I am done preparing and learing...teaching is a constant state of doing more, of becoming.....of working towards self fulfillment.
The key for me when I teach out in rural Alaska, is not going to be so much what I can teach my students, but what I can share with them, what I can convey to them, and to give them a sense of comfort, trust, caring,....and then....others things will follow.