We've all read advice columns and books on teaching. Some are worth our time...many are not. What gives the person the right to pass on sage advice? What makes him or her the expert? Experience, knowledge, and success. I'm not so sure I'm the expert, but I do have experience, knowledge and past success as a teacher. Let me briefly share a synopsis of my credentials and then you can decide whether it's worth your time to continue reading. If not, no harm done. If so, I hope a few of my hard-earned nuggets will help you become a better teacher...no matter what the environment.
I said experience was part of what makes a good teacher. I taught English in the middle and high schools (8th grade - sophomore) for eight years. I also have over twenty years of ministry experience teaching and working with all ages (preschool, children, youth, young adult, adult, and senior adult). In addition to that, I have seven children of my own. Teaching can be done on every front and in many different ways. This is the "Reader's Digest" version of my experience, but I think it helps to qualify me.
Secondly, I listed knowledge as a key qualifier of teaching. Now, before I lose you, let me say this. I have known a lot of knowledgeable people who couldn't teach a single person. Knowledge in and of itself does not make a teacher, but without it, what could we teach? Now, back to my qualifications. I have a BA in English, a MA in Christian Education, a MEd in Education, and a MA in Counseling. Yes, that makes three masters degrees. I love to learn. I agree with my father when he said, "The day I stop learning is the day I die." I am a committed life-long learner. I have learned a lot and amassed a wealth of knowledge. Do I know it all? No! Only God knows it all. In fact, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. But, with that said, I do believe I have learned enough to pass on a few thoughts here and there.
Thirdly, I believe some sort of success should follow a great teacher. Not that awards are everything...they're not...but in my last two years of teaching English at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, TN, I was honored with back to back awards. I received both "The Golden Apple" (for excellence in teaching) and "The Second Mile" (for going above and beyond the call of duty). Those are measurable successes. But those aren't the most important measures of success. I recently reunited with two former students who told my daughter, "Your dad was the best teacher I ever had. I mean it." They went on to tell her specific things I did as their eighth grade teacher that have remained in their minds and hearts. These women are both thirty now. Sixteen years later and they still remember many of my lessons. That, to me, is the true measure of a teacher's success.
I believe these three characteristics qualify me to share with and mentor teachers of all ages at all stages of their journey. If you agree, then I invite you to follow my blog. Look specifically for those posts that apply to teachers. You'll note that each has the tag "From the Heart of a Teacher." Upcoming posts will include such topics as "Building Rapport," "Individualizing the Lesson," and "Grabbing the Student's Attention." Thanks for reading, and welcome to The Innerside.