Teaching Fish to Skate

I get told I’m good at my job.

I’ve heard this message from parents, students, colleagues and bosses… but I’m never sure I believe it. Self-doubt is something I have been crippled by throughout not just my career but my whole life.

Side note: this is probably why I write poetry.

 

Anyway, when I think about the teachers that I have crossed paths with (whether as a student, while on prac or as a teacher myself) I can’t help but think of the things that they do better than I do.

There are teachers who plan far more thoroughly than I do.

There are teachers who provide better feedback than I do.

There are teachers who know their students better than I know mine.

There are teachers who are more professional than I am.

There are teachers who manage behaviour better than I do.

There are teachers who know their content better than I do.

 

Simply put, there are teachers who are better than me.

But, I am good at my job and I can tell you why in 7 words – my heart is in the right place.

 

For me, teaching isn’t about content. Content can be Googled.

For me, teaching is about sparking an interest and hoping a fire lights.

For me, teaching is acknowledging that life is a race and I’m passing on a baton.

I teach English but I’m not trying to make authors of my students. I don’t care if they know what a dangling participle is. I’m not asking them to be avid readers.

What am I doing?

I’m trying to make them enjoy learning. I want them to want to come to school.

 

It’s strange. I take a lot of inspiration from weird places. One of these places is skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen. In a TEDx talk, Mullen talks about creativity and transcendence. He says that his love of skateboarding waned because he got caught up in the ‘job’ of it and he became reinvigorated when he realised the joy of experimentation and the potential of a creative community. The ideologies that created the school system as we know it have reached their expiry date. I get why students think school sucks but I want them to know that education is important and learning can be fun. I want them to play around with words and ideas. I want them to deconstruct and create. I want them to wow me.

mullen

 

I’m not the best teacher. I’m not even the best teacher I can be.

BUT… I refuse to put a cap on what I think my students can achieve and I am determined to make their learning experience an enjoyable one. As Albert Einstein supposedly never said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So, instead, I’m giving my students an opportunity to show that they are indeed geniuses.

If that makes me good at my job, it’s a badge I’m happy to wear.

 

 

 

 

 

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