Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Ideal Teacher

The ideal teacher guides his students but does not pull them along; he urges them to go forward and does not suppress them; he opens the way but does not take them to the place. --Confucious

I am not an ideal teacher. But I try. I'm having a book fair this week. I let my technology club students help me set it up. This is something they know they will get to do, since I do it every year and they always get to help. They love it. But their help is both a blessing and a curse. It's nice to have help with setting up, especially with moving the boxes and carrying stacks of heavy books. It's a curse because, in actuality,I could do it better, faster, and much more efficiently by myself. But I let them do it. I give them each a table to set up and display and they work happily, setting up sloppy displays which I could do much better myself. But they love it. And they are so proud of their displays. When their class comes to the library to visit the book fair, they point out what they have done to the other students. So I let them do it.

This is the same group that produces and broadcasts our morning show. If I was producing and broadcasting the show, I would present a polished product which had been created with several different pieces of software, had been edited and would include web pages, .wav files and a myriad of interesting reports. But this is not my show. The kid's show isn't exactly like that. But it is their show. They learn, by the end of the year, to present a fairly excellent show. They learn they have to be on time, or they will be replaced by someone in the other group. They learned how to be a supportive team member when one boy's mother was gravely ill. They learn that you can make a mistake and it's OK, and you can go on, just like real newscasters. They learn that it's always a good idea to have a backup plan. When the Internet is down and you can't get the weather, you can always use the newspaper. And they learn they can do it all without me. That I will stand back and watch and guide and help, but I will not do it for them. And they will learn that this is what real life is like. And maybe I have helped, just a little, to prepare them for that.

I'm not an ideal teacher. But, every day, I try. Every day.