Saturday, July 21, 2018

Kim Frencken: What does it take to become a teacher?

What qualifies someone to teach? A certificate. A degree. Experience. Well, it does take a degree in education and the experience will follow. But, what really makes a teacher?

If you don't like kids you'd better find a new profession. This one isn't it. You have to like kids. All of them. Not all of the time. You won't like the way they act or the things they say. All. The. Time. They will get on your nerves. Even your last nerve. But deep down you don't just like them, you love the little rascals. You see promise in each one. They all have potential. What about the kid that you secretly wish would move away? Far away. Yes, even that kid.

If you don't like learning, bail out now. A teacher that isn't learning shouldn't be in the classroom. A teacher learns something new every day. And, here's an interesting fact. Teachers love learning. Teachers are curious. Why? That's their favorite question. With How? Who? When? Where? What? all following close behind.

A teacher's curiosity is never really satisfied. Nothing is beyond their scope. Or their imagination. Teachers love to imagine possible scenarios. Their imaginations allow them to travel all around the world before lunch and then take a trip to space following afternoon recess. Following lunch is the time for quiet, soft dreams. Dreams that will encourage a child's naturally curious nature.

If you don't like working with adults, head on to the next profession. This one isn't for you. You not only will work with kids, but the adults that raise them. Parents are not always fun. Sometimes they make you cry. Sometimes they make a bad word slip out. Sometimes they make you mad. And, if you are blessed, they will be your best supporter and advocate. They will understand the word TEAMWORK. But, if they don't, you have to be cordial and nice anyway. You can think all the bad things about them that you want, but you can't ever let them know. Put your game face on and handle that conference like a pro.

If you don't like collaborating, become a hermit. Everyone collaborates. We all have to work together. You know... play nice. No pinching, hitting, name calling, or spitting. Someone says something you don't like or asks you to do something you don't want to do... get over it. You may not want to be on the grading-written-response-committee, but if your administrator puts you there, you are stuck. You may not like the new teacher's suggestion, but put on a smile and play along. She'll find out soon enough that you tried the same thing 30 years ago. It didn't work then. And it didn't work when every new teacher suggested it. Every year. It won't work now. But everyone smiles and gives it a try.

If you don't like being outdoors in all kinds of weather, find yourself an office job. Teachers are like mailmen. Rain, snow, sleet, and 100+ degree temps don't phase us. You don't want duty standing on the corner in the freezing rain or merciless sun watching for kids to dawdle onto the playground. Get a doctor's excuse or get a heavy coat and a handheld fan.

So, what does it take to be a teacher. Anyone can pick up a book, read directions, write stuff on the board, and sit behind a desk. But a teacher teaches. A teacher lives and breathes school. A teacher sees into the heart of each child and tries to reach them. A teacher loves lightbulb moments. A teacher makes learning fun, challenging, and exciting (not necessarily in that order and not necessarily every lesson). A teacher has heart. The biggest heart. Why is it so big? Because they give away a piece everyday and still have plenty of heart left over.

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)

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