How to be a better teacher is a thought that constantly plagues the back of my mind.
See, for the past few years I’ve been teaching co-op classes. I’ve taught in various classes from preschool to grade 12. During that time, I’ve come to realize that I’m a better teacher at co-op than I am at home.
That’s sad and not fair to my own children. I had to ask myself–why? Why am I so much better at teaching a classroom than I am at teaching at home?
(I actually asked myself the question. And when I did, I answered back! 🙂 )
Well, because I’m teaching a class of 10 to 15 students (or more), I am typically more prepared. (Preparation)
Also, because these are co-op classes that I volunteer to teach, I am passionate about the topic. I only teach what I love to teach. (Passion)
Because the classes are scheduled for once per week, I spend 1 to 2 hours in class doing nothing else, uninterrupted. No phone, no laundry, no fighting between children. And no computer calling my name. (Persistence)
Finally, because I’m pretty calm and low key most of the time, I drink a huge cup of coffee on co-op days. Delicious caffeine = energy!. (Coffee)
Do I teach under the same circumstances at home?
Not at all!
At home, I have at most four students, but all on different topics. I am mentally all over the place.
I am not nearly as passionate about spelling as I am about writing or math. I’m not nearly as passionate about trig as I am algebra. I’m not passionate about biology at all.
Also, our time schooling is always interrupted. The phone rings. Books are lost. Computers hang up. Children argue. Lunch burns, etc. It’s often complete chaos. (Oh, and usually, some child is practicing at the piano. With 3 or 4 children practicing piano, practice time is pretty constant. Especially if they love it. Which is what I want, right?)
Because I have a hypersensitivity to caffeine, I don’t always drink coffee. Add to that the fact that I am usually up late working or up early working, all which mean I’m more tired during the day.
After speculation, my solution is the following?
It may seem a little tongue in cheek at first glance, but it isn’t! To really be the best teacher I can be, I need to recreate these four key ingredients at home.
So now the issues are–
How do I become/stay prepared?
How do I become passionate about all subjects I teach my children?
How do I persist day in and day out?
How do I maintain my energy?
I imagine the solutions are different for everyone. For me, they involve the following:
Stay prepared by:
Picking curricula that is open and go, and plan over the weekends or holiday breaks. (My December will be spent planning the spring semester.)
Teach with passion by:
Being passionate about my children if not about the subject I’m teaching.
I made this a question because to make it a statement sounds trite, superficial. The real world version of this is “Never Surrender!” or “Never Give Up!” The only way to do that is to put on my big girl *anties and fully embrace the life I’ve chosen. For me, it’s a choice.
Be energetic when teaching by:
Taking care of myself. I have to get my rest and go to bed on time. Eat enough protein, exercise, and say NO to sugar.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s work that I have to do, that you have to do, that all teachers have to do.
Simply put, our students deserve the best teacher we can give them.