Monday, November 2, 2015

"Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them makes an impression." - Haim Ginott

This past week, I enjoyed a journey back 41 years in time, to my college alma mater.  The trip was not for Homecoming or a concert; rather, I was invited to speak to student teachers in the School of Education at Edinboro University and share some of the information in my book, Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher.  I wrote, planned, and made a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation, trying to include "Everything one needs to know about teaching" in a 90 minute talk. (Yes, I know that task is impossible, but I tried)  The students were involved and engaged learners; the professors have armed them with voluminous amounts of knowledge, and they are loving their student teaching experiences.  I could tell from the discussions we had that these young men and women are going to be great teachers.

From my observations of this group, it was evident that teaching is not merely a job prospect, but rather, a calling. When the group discussed the development of a teaching philosophy, they already had conjured up some important words to incorporate into their philosophies; words like :"student centered learning", "engaged learners", "a safe and welcoming environment." Their thoughtful answers let me know that they are quickly grasping the importance of the classroom teacher as a major influencer in every child's life. We talked about the importance of respecting students, and about developing confidence, preparing for classes, communication with students and parents, and being creative in lesson planning and discipline. Their comments showed me that they "got it." Knowing that so many bright young minds will continue to educate America's youth with such caring and concern makes me happy.  

One of the PowerPoint slides proclaimed: "No job is more important than TEACHING. Congratulations on choosing teaching as your life's passion and profession."  In my opinion, teachers have more of an ability to impact lives than any other profession.  I stressed to these student teachers that they must take their position in the classroom very seriously, knowing that they are role models who will be quoted and emulated.  We talked about the importance of kindness and empathy, required traits of good teachers.  I enjoyed sharing stories with them from my 37 years in the classroom, including some "Oh, no, I did not learn how to deal with this in college" moments.  I stressed that in every case, the teacher must always do what is best for the student, and they nodded their heads in agreement.  Truly a great group.

I am enjoying being back in the classroom and sharing my wealth of knowledge from those 37 years with student teachers.  I attained a well-rounded education at Edinboro, which grew even more with my plethora of classroom experiences. After being back at Edinboro last week, meeting with the professors, and seeing all of the university offerings, I feel even more uplifted about the student teachers who will become great teachers as they gain employment, their own classrooms, and a multitude of educational and teaching experiences. I am so pleased to see that the Early Childhood Department, chaired by Dr. Mary Jo Melvin, along with her colleague Mr. Robert Snyder, are so dedicated to making sure their students have both the core knowledge and the practical knowledge needed to be successful in the classroom. 

My simple hope is that student teachers will always remember the power they wield as teachers, and that they will use that power in a positive manner to enhance the lives of their students. Great teachers impact so many lives . . . and as teachers, it is impossible to know just where and when that influence stops or begins. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ® 

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