Throughout my teaching career, I’ve often found myself in what I term, “the rut”. Not bored of teaching nor unexcited but rather teaching without any “spice” and just going through the motions. Settled is what I call it. Finding myself feeling like I’ve figured it out and knowing exactly what I’m doing and how to do it. Finding myself in a house with a solid frame and foundation – even inviting in others and showing how I’ve made such a great home.
So you are probably asking, “what’s so wrong with that?” My answer, “everything and nothing.”
Teaching is what can be termed, “transactional”. There is no daily recipe or any day the same. It consists of hundreds of hourly human, so human encounters and decisions. Teachers need a strong belief system that can underpin and guide their activity which appears so chaotic and otherwise would be so chaotic. But there is a danger, a danger that we just “stop believing”, that we teachers feel like we know our beliefs, this is how it works and should be and that’s it … pass the mustard please, next customer. I don’t think this should be the case, we need to continually refine our teaching belief system, continually be creating our own system.
Thoreau said we must all follow the beat of our own drummer. Exactly. And we do so by continually listening to the beat of that drummer, our drummer, day in and day out. Not that of anyone else. We have so many “this is the way to teach” methods, so many principles and precepts, so many that want black and white answers for what they do as teachers day in and day out. As a teacher trainer, I’ve gone from telling to just showing what works for me and insisting that teachers figure things out for themselves, on the ground and in their classrooms. The worst thing we can do as a teacher is to swallow whole hog the newest trend, the latest PD topic, the philosophy and advice of our latest certificate, course, trainer or professor. Do what works, test and try. Continually create your own system – that’s the only way.
And I’m not advocating wrapping this up as being “post method”. That would defeat the purpose. The philosophy of teaching that espouses that each teacher continually develop and listen with their ear to the ground (not a head in the ground or above the clouds), this philosophy doesn’t fit in a box or come with a label. It just is a way of being and a way of teaching.
Go forth, keep doing what works, even if all the researchers and PhDs say it doesn’t work. You alone, as the classroom teacher have the authority to say what works. I’m going forth and making some changes over the summer. I’ll let you know more about them soon. Got to deal with that rut and do what works for me.