As my fifth year of teaching came to a close, I began thinking back on my teaching career. When I student taught, I had wonderful teachers to work with. I got to conduct a piece on the Christmas concert (in the semester I was supposed to be observing), and even got to fully rehearse one piece for the spring trip. That’s not too common these days, from what I have gathered.
So in that sense, I have been surrounded by great educators from the beginning. As teachers, we really need to consciously endeavor to surround ourselves with great educators. These can come in various ways, some of which are not what you might expect.
The most obvious place
Whatever subject you teach, odds are you have a team of some sort. Maybe it’s the other Social Studies teachers, maybe it’s a middle school with teaming, so it’d be all of the other core subject teachers on your team. Perhaps you are the only teacher of your subject in your school. There are probably other teachers of the same subject in your school district. There are generally at least one or two in that subgroup who have more experience than you. Learn from them. Even if all you learn is what you never intend to do. Everyone has something to teach you; you must go out there and be willing to learn.
Where to look next
After you have identified one or two other good teachers in your small circle, expand the circle. The natural expansion of this would be other teachers in your school, other teachers in your school district, other teachers of your subject in other districts. Go out and network. Do some personal marketing, and meet other people who will teach you stuff, either directly or indirectly. Even some administrators used to be good teachers.
The not-so-obvious places
I have found that there are many people out there with the heart of a teacher. Personally, some of the best teaching I have ever had was in church. Not every pastor has the heart of a teacher, but many of them do. Podcasting is a great way to listen to a wide variety of teachers. I also listen to Dave Ramsey and read Seth Godin’s blog. These two gentlemen are incredible teachers. Teachers spread ideas. One of my college professors told me that telling is not teaching. How many of us miss that! Telling someone to do something is usually not enough. There must be inspiration along with it. There must be motivation.
So now what?
Now that you have identified these great teachers, begin asking them questions. We’ll discuss some questions that aspiring great educators should be asking others soon.