While on the my university’s website retrieving my college transcripts, I stopped in on the page for the education department, my old stomping ground. In two separate places on the page their theme is proudly displayed: “Teacher as Model and Mentor: Ever Teaching, Ever Learning, Ever Changing.” These principles meant little to me when I was in school, but seeing them again as a professional was powerful. I realized just how important each of them is in being a successful teacher. In my next three blogs I will be exploring these three tenets in-depth as they related to early childhood professionals.
I had to stop and think about what “Ever Teaching” really meant to me. I decided it meant two things. The first is taking advantage of teachable moments. Not all learning that takes place was written on the lesson plan or posted on the schedule. Teachable moments present themselves at any time and can be more meaningful learning experiences for the children. They are the nuggets of learning for which we are constantly mining! Do we want the children to learn only while sitting at circle time as the teacher reviews the day’s weather or do we want them to learn by experiencing the weather for the day? What does the wind feel like? How does the position of the sun change our shadows? Why do some snowflakes stick together and other snowflakes fall through our fingers? These are the things that children can discover on their own.
Imagine that it starts raining smack in the middle of calendar time and half of the children are now more interested in the tracks the raindrops are making on the window. We can return them to the lesson already in progress, or we can utilize their curiosity and their excitement to investigate how the raindrops form into streaks, to discuss what it sounds like as it hits the glass or even experiment with water droplets on wax paper.
What else does “Ever Teaching” mean to me? The fact that no matter how old your students get or how long they have been out of your classroom, you will always be their teacher. They may see you at the library, in the movie theater or returning with their own child to your classroom. Your status as “teacher” doesn’t change like your Facebook status does.
Being “Miss Janine” forever has meant encounters with students when I least expected them. Once when I was doing some evening grocery shopping in a t-shirt and messy jeans (that one pair everyone has with paint smudges, ragged cuffs or missing a belt loop), I ran into a student and his mom. We had a nice casual conversation; it didn’t matter what I was wearing or that I was off the clock, I was still “Miss Janine.” I’ve also been on the other end of the student-teacher encounters. I was at a group interview for my teaching position and recognized my fourth grade teacher as the coordinator of the event. It was surreal for me, and I’m sure for Mrs. Johnson as well, to be in a situation where we were peers. However, to me, she will always be “Mrs. Johnson” instead of “Anna.”
Ever Teaching: the return that we receive on our investment in children is measured in hugs and smiles and chance reunions years later. What does “Ever Teaching” mean to you?