The Challenge of Teaching

| February 10, 2011

The library has recently acquired a book entitled A Good Teacher in Every Classroom. From the book’s description, I learned that the main idea of the book is quality teacher preparation.

The title caught my eye because this is something I think about a lot as I am studying to become a teacher: what makes a good teacher? I have a few ideas: understanding, patience, an open mind, a good listener, someone who is good at observing others, a keen sense of empathy and intuition, generosity, a positive attitude, confidence (in yourself and in your knowledge about a subject), pride in one’s work and a good planner. These are a lot of details – at least if I’m going to fill the shoes I’ve set out for myself as a teacher.

Another reason this book caught my eye is because of something that happened to me earlier this week. On Tuesday afternoons I teach an after-school flute class in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I work with a group of fifth graders. Each week feels like a puzzle as I tweak lessons trying to find the right mix of information/fun that each child needs to progress. So far, after almost two months, I feel like a snail going uphill.

This feeling comes from the fact that I need help being a better classroom manager. One of the students in my Tuesday class is very difficult. She acts up in every class and it seems to me that she is looking for attention. Part of me wishes I could give her all the attention she wants, but the other part realizes that her behavior takes away from the goal of the class: for students to learn to play the flute. I feel like I’m juggling. I like the challenge, but I also want to find the right mix so that the class can move forward and really begin to learn more.

As time goes by I’m sure that I will find the right mix. But part of me worries that I’m almost treating the children like guinea pigs until we get there. Is this something other teachers struggle with? If so, do you have any advice you would like to share with me and the rest of our pressible community?