Upon reading another excellent article for my drama class (titled “Excellence in Teaching” by Heathcote), I had to share the quotes below that stood out to me and my reflections on them.
“I must…have the ability to see the world through my students, and not my students through it” (p. 18)
Heathcote discusses how sometimes a child or a class has the capacity of showing you a whole new way of looking at a situation that you would never have thought of on your own. In looking through my students’ eyes, I can gain valuable insight into what motivates and interests them, what confuses them, and what is valuable to them. Conversely, by looking at my students through the lens of the world, I may unfairly judge or characterize them and fail to allow them a new chance to prove themselves each day in my classroom.
My next quote comes after Heathcote reflects on the importance of a teacher knowing herself fully in order to be able to effectively relate to her students. Heathcote’s obervations are quite personal, assuming that working on oneself leads to teaching in a more authentic manner:
“I see working at myself as the ability to examine the journey of my life, to constantly review it, and to perceive where I’m at in it. I forsee my death and I look forward to it, not in a morbid sort of way, but by constantly recognizing my humanity” (p.23)
The reason this is relevant? Heathcote goes on to explain why it is so important to know yourself as a teacher with more eloquence than I can:
“Teaching demands that we give ourselves fully to the task in hand. To do this means that we must be complete and completely self-knowing”(p.23)
This is an idea reinforced by Dr. Edmiston’s text on the first principle of teaching with drama (which I wrote about here) when he says:
“as teachers, we’re not destined to teach like other teachers, even when we admire their approaches”(p. 2).
This is a reminder that I think I often need, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true of a lot of teachers. Somehow when I attend new classes or professional development sessions I walk away with the message that I need a complete overhaul of everything I do in my classroom and I should replace all of my standbys with the new things I’ve been exposed to. While it’s great to challenge myself to try out new strategies and methodologies with my students, the quotes above go a long way in reassuring me that it’s O.K. to be true to yourself as a teacher and to do the things that work for you. The important thing is not to confuse knowing who you are with becoming rigid and inflexible, or someone who is incapable of entertaining the possibility of another way of doing something.