Sunday, May 08, 2011

Climbing the Teaching Mountain

As a child I climbed many mountains.  I was a chubby, awkward kid, and climbing mountains was tough.  My agile little sister raced to the peaks while I huffed and puffed up and over every rock and tree stump.  My large family waited for me at forks in the trail.  I could hear them laughing and playing in the distance as I trudged up the steep paths.  When I came into view they'd yell, "There she is," and when I reached the waiting party, they'd all jump up and start the climb again leaving me barely a second to rest.  But as soon as we passed the trees and spied the view, my energy multiplied.  The magnificent view of the landscape below and the sky above filled me with the vigor I needed to reach the summit.

Climbing mountains and teaching have some similarities.  The classroom feels like the forest sometimes.  Teachers work tirelessly with large numbers of students trying their best to meet each and every need.  And like my quick-climbing siblings, leaders sometimes make quick decisions, leaving teachers behind huffing and puffing to do the work of reaching the goals.  Sometimes, no one waits to give the teacher pause, and time to communicate what he or she is thinking or doing, they just move on, making decision after decision.

That's why, as a teacher, I need to focus on the "view" of what's important and where I'm headed.  Teachers are in the front line when it comes to education.  They are the ones that have to navigate the vision of many leaders within and outside of their school systems while still making sure that they meet the everyday needs of students.  The "view" is the vision, the landscape and sky of where one is going and what's important.

Today, as I think about my vision and view, the place on the mountain that energizes and invigorates me, the following thoughts come to mind.

1. Children are center stage in education.
2. A teacher's job is to develop students' skills, knowledge, social competency, self concept and passions.
3. Communication is essential.
4. Welcome critique
5. Continue to research, read, observe and learn.
6. Continue best practices; refine and revise as needed.

Like that little girl on the mountain, I have to find the vision from within to stay strong and agile as I climb the teaching mountain.  It's not always an easy trail or path.  There's often many obstacles in the way, but having a wonderful "view" of what's possible and what's important gives one the energy to continue the climb.