I’ve had this idea in my head for a few weeks now. I was talking to a teacher in our school about a really cool project she was running with her class. She was worried that taking 5 or 6 days out of the semester was too much. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to cover everything. I told her not to think of it that way, as she was replacing some other activities with something far richer and deeper. She still was having trouble thinking of it that way. She said that there are ‘certain things that they need to know for the next level.’
So it got me thinking, who was she talking about? Was she thinking that she had to provide the kids with some specific knowledge or skills that they absolutely needed, or was she thinking about the next course they may take and that if the students seemed to be lacking in something it would reflect upon her as a teacher in the eyes of another teacher?
Then I got thinking about the all-too-common phases that teachers use to ‘motivate’ kids. “You’ll never be able to get away with that in (fill in some upcoming level above current level here).” Or the oft uttered “Why didn’t they teach them this in (fill in some prior grade here).”
Then it struck me. Who do we work for?
Are we working for the kids in front of us, or for the imagined future-teachers that the kids may have? Or are we working for our colleagues in the next grade, or the senior courses in the rooms down the hall?
I submit that if we spent more time worrying about providing quality educational opportunities for the students we have in front of us now, that we’d be better off in both cases. That the students now would learn more and better things, and that the future-teachers will appreciate their skills. For my part, I’ll get over the fact that maybe students haven’t had the chance to master some specific bit of knowledge if they are better learners, and eager to give things a shot in my class.
So, as I thought about it, I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to be concerned what the teachers next year, or any year after that, (university prof’s I’m looking at you!) may wish for me to do in my class, I’m only going to worry about what the students in my class need, and what will work best for them.
How about you? Are you working for another colleague? Or some imagined future-teacher?