What has been your biggest challenge in teaching?
I think that the
constant "being on" is a huge challenge in teaching. So many
children bombard me with questions, answers, ideas, and wonderings,
and it takes an enormous amount of energy to always respond in a caring
and thoughtful way. There's also the constant decision-making, which
is a challenge that doesn't stop at the end of the school day. When
the children go home, I then begin the process of reflecting on my day
and talking with my colleagues about the students, the school, and the
system. There's very little "down" time in teaching.
Have you changed your approach to teaching?
When I think about
change in teaching I think about all the minor adjustments that every
good teacher has to make all the time. You cannot teach the exact same
thing to every child every year -- you just can't do it. The kids are
different, your presentation is somewhat different, and the material
comes across differently each year. I'm constantly thinking about what
I'm going to say, and how I'm going to say it. Those minute-to-minute
changes are really crucial. And the way that I am informed and able
to make those decisions has to do with how much I've been talking to
my colleagues, what I've read recently, what I've heard, and what my
second-graders have been saying to me. I process all those kinds of
things. The minutia, the little bits of change can have a really big
impact, and even though they may be very slight changes, they are informed
by all of my professional life.