To the editor:
Every teacher who enters the profession and really sticks with it realizes, at some point, that teachers are born not made.
No teacher would try to tell you that a born teacher doesn?t have to work hard to become a good teacher. They do. But the born teacher usually does want to become a good teacher and they are more than willing to put the time and effort into doing so.
How can you tell someone is not a born teacher? Not easy. Only the teacher really knows.
But if a teacher finds himself checking out the vacation schedule on the first day of school that may be a sign; or at least a sign it is time to retire. If a teacher doesn?t want to spend the extra time going to their students? sporting events, plays, concerts, and academic competitions, that is also a sign.
If a teacher finds themselves constantly complaining about one thing or another; comes late, leaves early, and/or avoids the more challenging aspects of the job like organizing parent-teacher conferences, those all may be signs. A teacher who does not want to stay current with the latest developments in their field of expertise may also be giving a sign that they were not born to teach.
However, even a born teacher needs support and guidance from a mentor and or division head. Most teachers, even the born ones, discover that there is an age group they are better suited to teach. It is actually vitally important that a teacher be able to work with and teach an age group they are best suited to.
One of the problems in schools is that a good teacher keeps getting moved around to different age groups simply because they are a good teacher. It is usually pretty obvious when a teacher has become less effective with a different age group.
They find themselves less understanding and patient-confused, tired and working too hard. With the group they are best suited to, they naturally seem to understand the children, have plenty of patience and understanding; and teaching them often seems easy and fun.
Now the big question: Is there generally a pattern among teachers that reveals the age group they are best suited to teach? Yes! It is often the grade or grades that represented the biggest challenges for the teacher during their own school years. The grade they had problems adjusting to. The time of life when they felt especially sensitive and vulnerable and when they most depended on their teachers who were kind, patient and understanding.
They naturally become that teacher for their own students; sometimes without even realizing it is an influence of their own past experience as a student.
A school district that emphasizes the intuitive aspects of the teaching profession usually gains a reputation for excellence. This means that they have teachers: retired teachers, former teachers, and most importantly, administrators who are former teachers, helping younger teachers find their niche: the best subjects to teach and the age group they are best suited to teaching. This is not easy.
And it is not just about logic; intuition plays an important role. And born teachers have that intuition. Let them help their younger colleagues.
-Jim Turner, Fairfield