I will not hide it. I will shout it from the rooftops. Not everyone is a good teacher, setting up loving and supportive environments in which students can learn and flourish. Not all instructors take the time to get creative with content and inspire students to think beyond the facts. I will even go so far as to be critical that some instructors are even lazy and base their classrooms on what is easiest for them…
Is this the meaning of critical pedagogy? To be critical of what’s going now? This idea of “Banking” in education is a way viewing what many of us, in this class are critical of and how it negatively impacts students… but here’s the thing!
THIS WON’T HELP US BE BETTER TEACHERS!!!!!
For just a moment, let’s suspend reality and imagine you get to teach a one credit pass/fail elective class in your content area. The entire purpose of the class is to be able to share YOUR passion for your content. What would you do with that freedom? How do you think you could utilize your passion and interest to spark a drive of action in YOUR students? Okay, now the reality is, that may never happen. BUT you can 100% create a day, or a week, or maybe even an entire unit in a class that is passion based and creatively assessed. How can you change your relationship with your students during this time? How could you inspire them to be curious and industrious in exploring their ideas?
My passion is genuinely for humanity and I access that best when i am teaching. The reading this week about teaching as an act of love is 100% in my level of understanding. I’m going to scan through my public school teaching and a little bit beyond… (trigger alert… I will discuss violent acts)
I was student teaching in a high school. On a Saturday, a student at a party, was shot in the face by another student with a shot gun. One student died and the other was arrested. The school was on heightened alert that Monday. The very next day, Tuesday, April 20th, the Columbine Shooting happened. My students all became terrified that they were all going to die and that nowhere was safe. My content didn’t matter. Showing my students they were safe and loved mattered.
I was a public school teacher in Arlington Country, Virginia. The Pentagon is in Arlington, about a mile and a half from my school. I was teaching in the Teenage Parenting Programs, so all of my students were either pregnant or had children. All these mommas were ages 13-19 years old. They were in my care when the Pentagon was hit by a plane during the 9-11 attack. Our school shook. My car was covered in ash from the Pentagon. My content didn’t matter. Showing my students they were safe and loved mattered.
I transitioned to teaching middle school, about a mile down the road. A few more years have passed and another terrorist-like event happened. The DC Sniper had the entire area on high alert. The Sniper shot and killed an FBI agent in a Home Depot parking lot, just down the road from our school. We were put on full lock down as no one knew who we were looking for and we were within an easy run of that location. My content didn’t matter. Showing my students they were safe and loved mattered.
I don’t know what trauma my students feel and have experienced before coming to me. I don’t know what is going on in their minds and their hearts. I do know my mind and my heart. It is my job, no matter how old, experienced or connected my students are, to keep them safe and make sure they know they are loved. Learning is a byproduct that comes from your environment. What is there to stimulate the brain? Is it fear? Shame? Anxiety? Or is it safety, love, creativity, inspiration, and curiosity?
I challenge all teachers everywhere to pick up this idea that TEACHING IS A RADICAL ACT OF LOVE! Love is something you offer and give away. And very much like good magic, it is never depleted within. Real love doesn’t follow the laws of physics or mathematics… just like teaching isn’t a science with rules to be followed. Teaching from love can prevent burnout and inspire creativity. Love has limits and boundaries, just as there will be in a classroom… but seriously. Find the root reason why you are teaching. Is it the love of something or someone? If so… find a way to show that love off!