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2014 Conferences : Is Teaching An Art?

teacher courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Is Teaching An Art?

By Patricia Rose Upczak

Throughout my teaching years I was required to observe my colleagues at least twice a year. Of course I felt I was way too busy to do this, and assumed it would have little value for me to watch a math teacher since I didn’t teach math at the high school I worked at. Needless to say I have to admit I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

I observed a math teacher, and was instantly aware I was in the presence of a master teacher. He taught a Geometry theorem first by writing it on the board, while explaining it, and having the students also write the process down after he finished putting it up. He gave them time to copy it and ask questions. A student raised her hand, and told him she really didn’t understand. He smiled kindly and said maybe I just haven’t explained it well enough yet. Let me try another way, and if you still don’t understand, don’t worry there are many different ways to look at this.

Later when I talked to him I told him I had never seen a math teacher be so creative with his explanations. He seemed genuinely surprised and responded, “I’ve never thought of myself as creative. I just see all the possibilities that math provides and I try to give that to my students.” That was a long time ago, and I’m still very grateful for all the children he touched in his long teaching career.

Teachers hold the children of this planet in the palms of their hands. Their jobs are multifaceted and vital not just for the children they teach, but for the future we all seek. There are few routine days in a classroom. Teachers learn early that plans go awry quickly for a million different reasons.

The really extraordinary creative teachers learn to handle the chaos of the world, the educational system and their classrooms with the grace of a gifted dancer. They make teaching look easy. They are the ones who know at some level that great teaching is an art that takes timing, hard work, compassion, great observation and communication skills. they must use their creative talents as they engage their students at all levels daily.

Factory education does not meet the needs of the children or teachers. In the classroom “one size” does not fit all. This has plagued education ever since we gave up the one room school house. A teacher who learns how to use their creativity in the classroom is much like a master director or conductor of an orchestra bring many different instruments and musicians together in harmony. It takes wisdom, patience, kindness and vision. The clear vision of what a child could be, and what their hidden talents are is a vital component to authentic teaching and true education.

Next: Can Teachers Be Happy and does that really impact students and education? »

©2013 Patricia Rose Upczak. All rights reserved.

Patricia Rose UpczakPatricia Rose Upczak is an author, speaker and life coach for teachers. She has been involved in education since 1974. More »