Hooked on Teaching
I met Sean on a college campus where he was teaching foundations courses in Biology and working on his Ph.D. He talked about his love of teaching and learning and the way Mrs. Burnett, his second grade teacher, ignited his passion.
As a young child, I didn’t feel like I belonged in school. I learned things quickly and easily, and I had a big appetite for books and information. So, when I started kindergarten, I was a proficient reader and knew how to add and subtract. I found no value in the letters and numbers lessons happening in my kindergarten class. If I had enjoyed art or outside play, I may have felt more excited about school. Those feelings persisted through first grade. I would quickly get through the work so that I could take my book out and read.
School changed for me in Mrs. Burnett’s second grade class. During math time, she would give me problems to solve. During reading time, she gave me baskets of books on different topics and let me write papers about what I learned. After I completed a paper about dinosaurs, she asked me if I would do a presentation for the class. She sent me to the computer lab to create slides and met with me to plan the talking points.
I was nervous and excited as I stood in front of the class and explained the difference between carnivores and herbivores. The other kids started raising their hands and asking questions. I experienced an amazing sense of synergy and suddenly felt like a valuable member of the class. My presentations became a regular part of science time, and I became hooked on teaching. Mrs. Burnett helped me see that the best part about learning something new is sharing that learning with others.
Sean’s story caused me to reflect on teaching to the middle. It is easy to see the consequences of leaving struggling students behind, but academically gifted students can also feel excluded. Mrs. Burnett noticed Sean’s needs and found creative ways to respond to those needs. When did a teacher tap into your passions and get you excited about school? Share in the comments below.
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