“Good teachers are . . .”

Last summer I spent several weeks working with teachers who wanted to learn more about the Responsive Classroom approach. My travels took me from New York City to Winnipeg, Canada! The group from Winnipeg had participants who haled from 13 of the 77 schools in their large district. They’ve stayed in touch with each other by email this year, sharing successes, challenges, greetings and activities they’ve tried, as well as thoughts and wonderings.

Recently I got a message from James Hickerson, one of the educators in that group. He described some things he’d tried doing differently this fall and the positive effects he’d noticed.  Of course, he’d also had some challenges along the way. What he said about facing those challenges was so clear and inspiring that I got his permission to share it with you:

“Life after our Responsive Classroom institute is indeed an arc – a trajectory, a soaring curve of learning and experience. How appropriate and how important for us to reconnect not only with that joy of discovery that we work so hard to facilitate for our students, but also with the occasional frustrations. The frustrations of not being able to make it work, of feeling like we must be doing something wrong, that we must be missing something that everyone else must “get”.

There is no learning, no growth, no change without taking risks – you can’t hit the ball from the bench – and this is what we ask of our students every hour of every school day. … As we move ahead as teachers through this first fall and on through this first arcing year of life after Responsive Classroom, how marvelous that we are also students together. Good teachers are lifelong students.”

What a great reminder for this time of year! Great teaching involves trying new ideas, taking risks, and reflecting on what could make you even more effective in the classroom.  By doing those things, we model what it is to be a learner for students–and we show them how to persevere as we work towards our goals.

Sarah Fillion is a Responsive Classroom professional development designer.

Tags: Professional Development

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