When you look in the teaching mirror you may not recognize the person standing in front of you. Years pass. We become wiser, more practiced, more effective, more seasoned, more skeptical, and sadly sometimes more jaded. Surroundings are everything. Sometimes we see less. Less bad decisions, less mistakes, less naive ideals, less bad practices, less energy, less passion, less of the person we used to be. For better or for worse teaching changes us.
When I am in public children notice me and I notice them. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop being a teacher when rambunctious children abound. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am a teacher when a lonely wanderer wants to throw the ball for my dog at the beach. When you are a teacher you don’t have the luxury of not looking in the figurative mirror. You have to do it every day.
Learning to reflect on your practice is one of the most effective ways to be a “good teacher.” Whatever “good” means these days. I only use that term because I’m tired of hearing about “bad” teachers. I mean I know there are ineffective teachers. Maybe no one ever taught them to look in a mirror. Maybe no one was there to catch them and help them fix what they saw. Maybe they’ve been unfairly labeled. Maybe they’re just in the wrong profession. I don’t know. I do know that there have been plenty of days where my lessons have been ineffective. But that mirror is always there to remind me to take care and reflect on my practice because my job means something. In fact it means a lot to 27 young people who are at the doors of adolescence and the cusp of greatness.
When you look in the mirror who do you see? What kind of teacher have you become? How effective were you today? Did you meet your goals and if not, how will you meet them tomorrow? If you like what you see how you can you continue to improve or support someone else? If you don’t, then how will you fix it?