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Thursday, February 02, 2017

Teaching is an Intimate Affair

I fretted and worried about today's observation mostly because for me teaching is an intimate affair. I have not thought deeply about that statement before, but it's true that for me teaching is very personal, and I suspect this is true for many teachers.

What makes teaching an intimate affair?



As I thought about it, I looked up the word, intimate, to analyze this a bit more. The words in the definition such as faithful, devoted, firm, familiar, and personal connect to my experience and efforts in teaching. Also as I thought about it, when we teach, we never really know how a single lesson or learning experience will go, and we continually react to the mood and movement of a lesson making decisions about what to do next and how to do it.

Sometimes we'll push hard to elicit a strong response and sometimes we'll ignore a behavior or event in order to focus on something more important. We're continually scanning the room for students' moods, needs, and interests, and formulating questions, challenges, and responses to support the momentum. In many ways we're orchestrating the learning.

The fact that it's an intimate affair also connects to the role that relationship plays in teaching. It's our relationships with our students and colleagues that energizes and empowers a lesson as well as informs our decisions. We know a lot about every student, and we're working all the time to teach children where they are or where they want to be. No visitor can understand this without conversation, stories, and share. Also as educators we are forever building on our experience--using past experiences to inform new work. There's a depth there that only those who you are closely related to will understand, those who know your story.

Teaching is an intimate affair, and that matters a lot. I'm wondering about how acknowledging that fact will affect policy, practice, and teaching teams and structure?

Is teaching intimate for you, and if so, why? How does this intimacy affect your work, relationships, and advocacy. I want to understand this dimension of teaching and learning more.