Saturday, March 28, 2015

SOLSC 2015 #28: Why is it called the art of teaching?

Each day during March, I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC). All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for thirty-one days. My slices will be primarily about teaching preschoolers. Check out the Two Writing Teachers  website for lots more reflections on teaching. Thanks especially to Stacey, Tara, Anna, Beth, Dana, and Betsy for hosting this writing challenge. 


Since September,
trying to help a child...

You see the growth that is needed,
how to ensure that it does?

write things down
speak with the child,
speak with the family,
identify what needs to be changed,
set a specific goal,
work on it directly,
intentionally change certain things, 
seek insight from colleagues,
let others observe,
tweak the environment so that success is inevitable, 
build a stronger relationship with the child,
foster trust,
build your relationship with the family,
help your team to see what you are seeing,
ask for input and suggestions,
hear feedback,
make a new plan,
eliminate the obvious mis-steps, 
apologize when necessary,
wonder about the child,
build on strengths - the child's, yours, the teaching team, the family's
modify routines,
plan interactions with peers,
write up new plans,
increase communication,
soften your approach,
back off,
be patient,
try a little less of this,
try a little more of that,
do background research, 
find out more about it,
seek experts' advice and insight,
work to make progress inevitable,
give the goal lots of attention,
ignore the goal,
seek the harmony of the middle,
all the while staying focused on the goal,
note the small successes, 
the incremental steps forward
repeat what works well,
keep faith in the child.

When you find yourself a little sad from the seeming lack of progress, remember those adages - 

This is why it is called the art of teaching

When the student is ready the teacher is there.

Never believe you are the last one to teach a child something.

Know that the child has her own timeline, 
the child decides,
you set up the environment,
you create her world,
making success more likely,
the child decides.

Make peace with the possibility that you may not see growth this year.

Magically, yesterday, a huge step forward.
It just happened.
I worked very hard to make it seem ordinary, to take it in stride.

My Teaching Assistant looked at me and said, 
"You didn't imagine it. It happened. I saw it, too. Awesome."

Ah, but we do ourselves a big disservice when we call it 'magic.'
or to say, simply,
'we were waiting for this.'

There were many, many, many small and important efforts that went into this, 
and must continue,
if this single step becomes the way forward for this child.

"So many things are done easily the moment you can do them at all.  But till then, simply impossible, like learning to swim.  There are months during which no efforts will keep you up; then comes the day and hour and minute after which, and ever after, it becomes impossible to sink.

C. S. Lewis 


  1. The art of teaching...exactly what you have invested here. So Beautiful!

    Be sure to read jarhartz today. Her post about Patricia Polacco goes along with what you have written here.

  2. Remind yourself, often the growth is silent and not yet visible. The seed is planted and grows below the surface and when it is ready it grows above ground.

  3. Beautifully written, Maureen. The part that speaks to me is that one must remember that we are not the "last" to teach the child. We must wait, and watch, and sometimes we will "see". What a pleasure to read that you had that moment.