The teacher should be a beacon of knowledge, like a lighthouse, whose sole purpose is to shine their all-knowing cone of light round and round to each student and burn the desired and necessary knowledge into the eyes and brains of students. The teacher holds all of the knowledge and it is their job to dole out the material and skills that are “necessary” to the students. Nobody shall get to the knowledge, except through the teacher.
It seems as though too often we as society, parents, and even students fall into the trap of believing that nonsense in italics. The job of a teacher is not to teach at all; to me it seems like such a misnomer. When I consider what I need to, want to, and should be doing as a teacher, I feel like I am much more of a facilitator than a teacher. I don’t want to be standing up in the front of the classroom mindlessly droning on about what a y-intercept is…that’s not my job! My job is to be on the front lines, fielding questions, guiding inquiries, and motivating students to discover and learn all these new, wonderful ideas that they have yet to encounter. I should be much less of a teacher and more of a tour guide. I should be pointing out things that students may not have noticed, give ideas on what they could try to help solidify understanding, and challenging them to do, not just learn.
There are a few necessary components to learning. I feel in order for learning to occur, students have to be engaged, involved in discovery, and entertained. I’m not trying to say school always has to be fun, but it is so much more difficult to forget something that you enjoyed being a part of discovering. And when you realize how you discovered it, you can go back through that process and discover it again if you forget specific facts. Memorizing formulas for the volume of three dimensional figures isn’t learning. Using manipulatives and two dimensional formulas to figure out how we derive the three dimensional ones leads to students being able to rediscover the exact formulas themselves if they forget what exact numbers we use. It is my job as a “teacher” to help students understand why. However, my job doesn’t stop there, it doesn’t even start there. I have to help them care; see why it’s important, how we use our material and how it can help them. I need to help them figure it out, answer questions, guide thinking and discussion, encourage participation. I have to help them sort out what they just answered, see where it comes from, how it connects and what it can do for them. My job is not to impart knowledge, but to feed the desire to learn and know.
I want to shake things up. I want my students to look forward to my class. I want my students to feel like they are teaching themselves, like they are the catalyst for their learning. I am looking forward to the challenge, and I am up to the task. My teaching philosophy is that I am not a teacher, but so much more.
Image credits: ~John~ & JTKnull @ Flickr