Sunday, February 03, 2008

Time enough for the mud to settle......

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arieses by itself?


Sometimes you hear that teaching requires the "patience of Job". Most people who say this seem to be referring to our ability to tolerate the particular problems of handling young people OR the institutionalized problems of education itself.But when I think of being patient, I have something else in mind.

It can take some children a very, very long time for some skills or concepts to develop.

I have to ask myself, am I less than a good teacher if my students'learning takes awhile?

It's certainly true that learning is unpredictable. It often doesn't make itself known in the specific time frame alotted in our concise teacher's editions. Moreover, I wonder if there mitigating circumstances to which we can point in order to excuse the length of time between confusion and mastery? Or am I just trying to rationalize away my incompetence? What's the point of hurrying through a list of specific lessons if I don't take the time my students' really need? But what of the consequences for moving too slowly?

As we settle into February and look ahead to high stakes testing, I am giving myself permission to slow down just a bit to make sure I am working in tandem with my students' needs, rather than against them. I vow to sit a bit and think hard about my techniques and supports, so that the time I do have is well spent. Mostly, I promise to honor the role of time in this complicated game called teaching. If it is necessary, I will wait until the "water is clear".

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