Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Extraordinary Teacher

My student teacher is pregnant. She is one of the coolest people I know. Wonderfully calm with kids. Open. Honest. Level-headed. Teresa is the kind of young woman I would like to teach my own kids.

She is so open with her pregnancy that when she got an ultrasound, one of those real modern, 3-D ones where you can sort of make out the facial features, we all scooted over to the science room next door to our classroom to check it out on the DVD player. She was so excited. The students and I were too.

The ultra sound tech had scanned all over the baby and we could look inside at the beating heart, the bones, the curled up beauty of the baby, safe in its wonderful sac of life. I’m sure it was something that none of my kids had seen before. (IT’S A BOY! with the little arrow was a subtle highlight - none of the kids noticed or mentioned it).

Today we measured around her tummy, right at the naval, for the second week in a row. One centimeter larger than last week. She led a nice discussion about how to graph her growth with the kids. “Should we make a line graph? A bar graph? How would a pie graph work?”

It is the kind of inquiry I could (obviously) never do with my kids – not that I wouldn’t. She talked about her weight – yes – her weight, and how much of it was the baby (about two pounds, as much as a large head of broccoli). It’s the kind of inquiry about real life that makes this a wonderful learning experience and her, a wonderful teacher.

It’s the kind of thing an older, more “mature” teacher probably wouldn’t do. While she has never taught before on her own, I can see something in her that I don’t see in many of the more “mature” teachers I have taught with in the past. There is a sparkle in her eyes, a genuine sincere interest in the children, that some teachers with a lifetime of experience never have. I have known older folks who retire from teaching and don’t ever seem to have that sparkle. I have gone to retirement parties for teachers who seemed to dread coming to work. For years.

Can you imagine going to work for years and thinking of your patients/clients/associates/students as people you have to just put up with? Can you imagine being a teacher of little kids and just putting in your time until you could retire? There are probably more of those teachers out there then you want to think about.

It is refreshing to be in the position to see a young teacher who will go out and change the world one child and one class at a time.

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