Posts Tagged ‘school’

To Be a Teacher

Posted: September 21, 2013 by Nerdy Woman in Perspectives
Tags: , , , , , , ,

readlistThe word teacher may evoke fond memories or make you shudder in horror. The best teachers are people with great curiosity, interested in learning new things for themselves, and able to encourage the same in other people.

A great teacher must have imagination, able to translate the most complex information into something that makes sense to the learner. To do that, they must understand learning styles because not every learner assimilates information in the same way.

A great teacher is resourceful. Whether it’s using the internet or applying for grants or taking advantage of a cloudy sky to teach about cloud types and weather, teaching requires using every tool available to spark enthusiasm and encourage curiosity.

I remember every one of my elementary school teachers. Only one could be said to be a nightmare, the kind that would be a caricature in a teen angst movie. Sixth grade. She gave me my first F grade. Penmanship. Why? Because I’m left-handed but didn’t write with a backslant. My penmanship was perfect for a right-handed person. I was devastated.

Nerdy Girl’s third-grade teacher is a great teacher. She teaches gifted education in a public school district where money goes to those with learning disabilities, not those who are above-average learners. She recognizes individuality in her students. During quiet study time, Nerdy Girl was disruptive and talkative. The solution? Allow Nerdy Girl to have an MP3 player. Why? Because if Nerdy Girl was listening, she wasn’t talking.

I think Bill Gates would be an excellent teacher. In his book, The Road Ahead (1995), he explained binary numbers in such a way that, for the first time, it was easy for me to understand. He takes complex information and translates it into a simple idea.

I think I’m a good teacher although Nerdy Girl is sometimes amazed at the things I find interesting and worth learning about. I remember encouraging her to read. I did what my fourth-grade teacher did… I read the first chapter of a good book and then set it aside. Nerdy Girl was 6 years old and finished Charlotte’s Web in less than a day. From that day forward, she couldn’t get books fast enough.

A great teacher doesn’t have to know everything about a subject to have credibility. Sometimes, it’s okay to be willing to learn with the student. Bring the resources, the curiosity, the ability to restate concepts in other ways, and the genuine desire to know all that is worth knowing.

Submitted to: Daily Posts

Finally immerging from a whirlwind formal educational adventure – 43 units in 3 semesters – to complete Associates’ degrees started many, many years ago, I’ve been thinking about what I learned apart from the content of the courses…

  1. You’re never too old to learn. In fact, I found that, because of life experiences, the theories and principles were easier to grasp. I was able to recall situations in which I had performed tasks that gave substance to ideas.
  2. You’re not alone. When I went to school in the 80s, it seemed like a cookie-cutter experience in which administrative bureaucracy prevented anyone who didn’t fit into the mold of “student” (18, living with parents, completely flexible schedule) from actually getting through the coursework. School is not like that anymore. In the past three semesters, I was able to take all my classes online, working around whatever else was going on in my life, and the administrators and instructors have been helpful and accommodating.
  3. Life experience makes one more resourceful. Had I been 18, I might have tolerated the $1200 price tag for books for the spring semester, but by researching alternative sources, I was able to get that bill down to $390. Which, of course, made me feel like I was smart enough to do this school thing. Additionally, using OneNote while I studied, making it a tactile as well as mental exercise, really helped with retention. I adapted to e-books from which I could copy/paste diagrams/tables/illustrations into OneNote. Technology is a wonderful thing.
  4. Always think outside the box. Being the Nerdy Woman, I set up a matrix in Excel, indicating which courses were available (not every course is offered every semester) to complete various majors. Within the accounting, business, and management fields, there was some overlap. So by taking just one or two more courses, I could increase the breadth of my knowledge and get an additional degree. Or two. Or three. I graduated with four – Accounting, Business, Management, and Management/Supervision.
  5. Don’t think you can’t afford to go to school. I really should have checked into financial aid when Nerdy Girl was younger. I didn’t realize that living on one income, with a minor child at home, I was able to get tuition waivers and grants for books.

Apart from formal education, there are lots of online learning resources that are FREE or very affordable. So why aren’t you learning something new today?