Monday, March 29, 2010

What makes the difference?

Everyone talks about making a difference. Sometimes, people compare apples to apples and ask, "what makes the difference? what is the difference?"

In the teaching program, I often run into this same question. On many days, I have to ask myself, "what is the difference between these two methods? What makes the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher?" or:

"How is what I'm doing any better or worse than what other teachers are doing? What is the difference?"


Teaching Source: Quite simply, the levels of scrutiny that a teacher may receive is in direct contrast to who the teacher is and that teacher's standing at any particular school. That is to say, a teacher of many years receives none, while a new teacher is under a watchful eye.

Credibility stems directly from the source. A teacher of many years maintains higher levels of credibility by simply being there and teaching safe, mistake free lessons.

Therefore, when I ask what makes the difference between a good and great teacher, the traditional answer will likely bring up these aspects of the profession. Because of the hierarchy in teaching (the pecking order, whatever you want to call it), the difference is not necessarily in the product of teaching, but rather the stance of the teacher.

Where am I going with this? I'm not too sure. I feel like, after viewing different classes and seeing different lessons taught, experience isn't necessarily a great indicator of the product or the engagement. Experience might serve a purpose in lesson planning or coordinating meetings, but maybe not in creating student engagement.

One thing that I am quite sure of, however, is that student teachers have absolutely no credibility in the classroom. As such, our opinions and experiences are often taken lightly or completely discounted (specifically when being paired with those of experience and power). If I could give advice to future credential students, it would be to tread lightly... so much so that you're not even sure if you're moving forward. I was told that, in this program, I could experiment, take risks, and try out new things.

Not so.

This is tough for many of us, but especially myself. When I go swimming, I don't like to enter the pool via the ladder. I know I can swim, I don't feel the need to take my time, I'll get in the pool and learn the strokes, improve my abilities and improve my style. Why should I have to take so much precaution when entering the pool?

I like to cannonball off the diving board. And so, I believe it is the cannonball, that certain aim to take risks, that might very well be the difference.
Red Trolley video....SIDEWAYS (courtesy of mary)

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