The teaching struggle. If you’re a teacher, you know what it’s all about. Every day, when you get up in front of your class, you struggle to make them understand, to learn. Instead of fighting against it, embrace the challenge.
The Teaching Struggle Is Real
Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, sat at the back table with her student teacher. Mr. Grow slowly shook his head. Then he looked down. “Your teaching is so great,” he said. “I just don’t know how I’ll ever get there.”
Ms. Sneed smiled gently. “You’ve already taken the first step,” she said. “You’ve acknowledged the teaching struggle. It’s real. Now you need to embrace it.”
Mr. Grow perked up a little. “What do you mean?”
After a slight pause, Ms. Sneed responded. “The best teachers dive in; they take risks. Actually, they learn to enjoy the struggle – and think of it as a gratifying challenge.”
Shift Your Teaching Struggle – Lift, Don’t Push
“You know, I didn’t start out as a great teacher,” Ms. Sneed said. “When I began teaching, I pushed my kids through the curriculum every day. Coverage. Was it boring? You bet. Boring for me, and boring for the kids. Then – I don’t know if it happened slowly or overnight – I realized that I needed to lift my students to new heights. Lift, not push. We’ve talked a little about scaffolding. When you help kids climb that ladder, you lift them up.
“This type of teaching requires greater effort. But with it comes greater reward.” She chuckled. “As a matter of fact, I often imagine the teaching struggle as lifting an entire class full of students.”
“This shift,” Ms. Sneed continued, “encourages autonomous learning. Kids become active in their own learning. By the same token, the teacher’s role changes. Instead of standing in front of the classroom lecturing, he or she moves to the sidelines and coaches them.”
Teach More Than Just Your Lesson
Mr. Grow let out a deep sigh. But Ms. Sneed continued, “When you get up in front of the students, maximize instructional time by looking for hidden opportunities. I know your university encourages teacher reflection. If you reflect before teaching, you will find these opportunities. A little teaching struggle before a lesson feels a whole lot better than regret afterwards.”
“Finally, set high expectations for every learner. Raise the bar. Expect greatness. Then help them get there. Sure, both student and teacher struggle. But the outcome is worth it!”
Enjoy Teaching (Even the Teaching Struggle)
“Today,” Ms. Sneed said, “I’m giving you a pep talk. This week we’ll delve deeper into each of these topics. Then you can find ways to embrace your teaching struggle – and enjoy teaching even more.”
She looked at her mentee fondly. “You know, Rome wasn’t built in a day. But if you work at it, little by little, you will become a master teacher too.”