I came across this quote on Cool Cat Teacher Blog this morning:
“We teach what we know; we reproduce who we are.”
As I read this quote I am overcome with a sense of responsibility towards my students and my profession.
I am also reminded that so much of what I teach is not content but modeling. As the main teacher for my students (I am with the same group of students 24 periods out of 36) I can not forget my influence on them.
The other day I lost it with them. We came in after lunch, the agenda was on the board, and I reminded students as they walked in to read the board and follow the instructions. They were to cool down after lunch with silent reading. One boy was acting beyond silly – to the point where he was going into the hallway and ignoring my instructions. I figured something had happened at lunch and he needed more than quiet reading to settle down. So I quickly tried to fill out paperwork to get him to a silent room in the school with his work. While I did this others were out of their seats, talking (and many of my students lack executive functioning that monitors self-control, voice levels…).
I slammed the door. I said (loudly, very loudly) WHAT are you supposed to be doing? I am DISAPPOINTED! BLAH BLAH BLAH.
They settled down, one student got the giggles (he does that when he is uncomfortable and unsure of what to do) and I had to move him to the back of the class to settle down but eventually they were all quiet.
10 minutes later I began to speak in a quiet voice and issued an apology. I told them that I thought one of the worst things a teacher could do was to yell at her students because I was teaching them that it was ok to be loud and to yell to solve a problem. I told them I thought it was aggressive for me to make a loud noise like slamming the door and that I was embarrassed of my actions. Then we brainstormed a little bit about what we could do when the class got loud and silly.
That moment of yelling, though it may have felt cathartic at the time, is going to take a long time to fix, to erase the idea that yelling is an ok way to talk to people because I am their teacher!
What I DO more than what I teach is what I model.
What do I want to model? And in turn reproduce?
In order to teach responsibly, I turn to another quote that is important to me:
I must be the change I want to see in the world. (Gandhi)
I must be patient, caring, and kind if I want to teach those attributes to my students, if I want to teach responsibly.